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John Ludwig Krapf 

The Explorer-Missionary of 
Northeastern Africa 




Made in U. S. A. 

3 1/ 



The name "The Dark Continent" was given 
to the great continent of Africa by Henry M. 
Stanley. This newspaper man was sent out 
by the New York Herald to find the missionary 
David Livingstone, who had gone into the wil- 
derness of central Africa and had not been heard 
from for several years. Stanley himself found 
it a very difficult matter to locate the great 
missionary, but he finally found him in a little 
town on Lake Tanganyika. Stanley had ample 
opportunity to study Africa at first hand, and 
the term which he applied to the great conti- 
nent is most fitting from several points of view. 
In the first place, a very large part of Africa 
is inhabited by negro races, most of whom are 
very dark-skinned. Then also, the great in- 
terior of this great continent was practically 
unknown to white people till a little more than 
fifty years ago. Even today there are large 
sections, fully as big as some of the states of 
the American union, which have hardly been 
seen by white people. And, in the third place, 
the races of the interior of Africa may be said 


to be in the very deepest and densest darkness 
as far as religion is concerned. Most of these 
tribes, as found by the white man, were entirely 
without sacred writings and systems of wor- 
ship. All their customs were saturated with 
superstition and devil worship, so that the 
greatest part of Africa was in the densest 
blackness of spiritual and moral darkness. 

Few people realize just how large the con- 
tinent of Africa is in extent. As a matter of 
fact, it is the second largest of the continents, 
Asia alone exceeding it in area. It contains 
close to twelve million square miles. That 
means that Africa is fully three times as large 
as Europe, about one and one-half times as 
large as either North or South America, and 
that it contains nearly one-fourth of the total 
land area of the world. From north to south 
Africa measures about five thousand miles, and 
its greatest width, from east to west is about 
four thousand five hundred miles. 

If we look at a map of Africa, we find that 
it looks something like a pear, with the larger 
end toward the north and a deep dent on the 
west side. The equator cuts across Africa just 
a little south of the larger end, and the conti- 
nent extends a little more than thirty degrees 
in either direction from the equator. The large 


northern part of Africa is occupied by the great 
Sahara Desert and other half-desert sections. 
On either side of the equator lie the tropical 
forests and jungles. The southern part of 
Africa extends into the south temperate zone, 
therefore its general nature approaches that 
of the south and southwestern portion of the 
United States. 

If we take up a physical map of Africa, we 
find that the continent looks something like an 
inverted saucer. The rim of this saucer is 
along the lowlands, near the ocean, what is 
known as the coast strip. Beyond this strip lie 
the mountain ranges, with an average height 
of two to three thousand feet. The center of 
the inverted saucer within the raised circle is 
the great central plateau of Africa, somewhat 
lower in the middle. 

In the center of Africa are found the great 
lakes, from which flow the mighty rivers which 
drain the whole continent, with the exception 
of the northwestern part. The largest lakes 
are in east central Africa, Lake* Victoria, Lake 
Tanganyika, and Lake Nyasa being the most 
important. On the southern border of the 
Sudan is Lake Tchad, one of the largest of 
several lakes which have no outlet to the sea. 


The rivers of Africa are known, at least by 
name, in every part of the world. The Nile 
has been written about for scores of centuries, 
and it is still one of the most romantic streams 
of the world. Its basin is two thousand five 
hundred miles in length, and it has seen the rise 
and decay of more civilizations than possibly 
any other river in the world. The Congo flows 
through the very heart of Africa. Its volume 
of water is second only to that of the Amazon, 
and its entire system includes at least ten thou- 
sand miles of navigable streams. Over in south- 
eastern Africa is the Zambesi, where we find 
the great Victoria Falls, almost three hundred 
and fifty feet high, and therefore much greater 
and more wonderful than Niagara Falls. The 
Niger River rises in the southwestern Sudan 
and drains a very fertile section of Africa 
before flowing into the Gulf of Guinea. 

All the river basins of Africa contain dense 
forests, with the exception of the valley of the 
lower Nile. Stanley's account tells of jungles 
so dense that the sun can never penetrate to 
the ground, while the luxuriance and beauty 
of the vegetation is equalled only by that of the 
Amazon valley in South America. Among the 
trees that grow in this part of Africa are red 
and brown mahoganies, some of which are up 


to twelve feet in diameter and fully two hun- 
dred feet in height. In these jungles we also 
find the great rubber trees, whose output has 
become more valuable as the automobile in- 
dustry has grown. On the great plateaus of 
southern Africa are immense prairies or 
savannahs, where big game is still to be found 
in large quantities. 

It seems strange that there should be moun- 
tains in Africa, almost beneath the equator, 
whose foot hills are covered with the palms 
and the jungles of the tropics, while their sum- 
mits are covered with everlasting snow. This 
fact caused the American poet Bayard Taylor, 
to write his celebrated description of Mount 
Kilimanjaro : 

"Hail to thee, monarch of African mountains, 
Remote, inaccessible, silent and lone 
Who, from the heart of the tropical fervors, 
Liftest to heaven thine alien snows, 
Feeding forever the fountains that make thee 
Father of Nile and creator of Egypt! 
I see thee supreme in the midst of thy co-mates, 
Standing alone 'twixt the earth and the heavens, 
Heir of the sunset and herald of morn. 
Zone above zone, to thy shoulders of granite, 
The climates of earth are displayed as an index, 
Giving the scope of the book of creation. 


There in the wandering airs of the tropics 
Shivers the aspen, still dreaming of cold: 
There stretches the oak, from the loftiest ledges, 
His arms to the far-away lands of his brothers, 
And the pine looks down on his rival, the palm." 

Of the products of Africa the best known 
are the costly hardwoods of the tropics and the 
gems of south Africa, particularly the diamonds 
of the great fields near Kimberley and Pretoria. 
But this does not exhaust the resources of the 
continent. We find that the countries along the 
Mediterranean raise grapes, olives, and figs. 
The great forests of the Atlas Mountains yield 
cork oak, and the northern part of Africa 
furnishes dates in great abundance. In the 
valley of the Nile fine cotton is grown, as well 
as various products of the more temperate 
climate. The great prairie lands of south 
Africa are well adapted to the raising of cattle, 
and the ostrich culture is still a prominent 
industry. Among the products of the tropical 
section of Africa are to be named cassava, 
coffee, sugar, palm oil, ebony, and ivory. In 
short, the great continent of Africa holds vast 
possibilities for the future, and the term "Dark 
Continent" should lose its significance in a very 
short time, also with regard to the change 


which ought to come concerning the spiritual 
condition of its native population. 

A very great factor in the mission work 
in Africa is that of the climate. When we study 
the map, we find, first of all, that a large part 
of Africa lies in the torrid zone, and may there- 
fore be expected to have a fairly hot climate. 
Of course, the temperature varies according to 
the elevation. As we have seen, there are 
mountains almost directly at the equator, whose 
summits are crowned with eternal snow, while 
their foot hills are covered with dense jungles. 
Along the entire coast of the continent the 
climate is hot and dry, and it is possible for 
people from Europe and America to become 
accustomed to this heat. In Egypt one part 
of the year is fairly pleasant, but when the hot 
winds are blowing from the desert, the heat is 
almost unbearable for one who has not grown 
up in the country. Along the western coast we 
find a great deal of low, marshy soil. Here the 
heat is almost unbearable, and millions of in- 
sects carry various diseases. It is to be ex- 
pected that malaria is very prevalent, and the 
death rate among white people is very high. 
Since the disease has now definitely been con- 
nected with the anopheles mosquito, it is pos- 
sible for white people to adopt certain measures 


against infection. This has somewhat improved 
the situation, although it is not always possible 
to employ the proper safeguards. Another 
very dangerous illness is caused by the bite of 
a small tick, and white people have found it 
almost impossible not to be infected by this 
pestilent insect. Possibly the most dreaded 
affection is the sleeping sickness, found mainly 
in the Congo basin and in the so-called Uganda 
territory. This sickness is caused by a germ 
carried by the tsetse fly. Although steps have 
been taken to meet this emergency, there will 
always be the difficulty of having the remedy 
at hand when it is most needed. 

The natives of Africa, have, in some meas- 
ure, met the situation in various ways. Much 
of the treatment given by the witch doctors is, 
of course, without significance. On the other 
hand, recent investigations have shown that 
the natives us a bitter medicine containing 
quinine to combat the deadly malaria. They 
also know that the mosquito is the bearer of this 
sickness, and they take measure to keep them- 
selves safe from the bite of the insect. With 
regard to many other diseases they have dis- 
covered ways of making themselves immune or 
partly so, and many centuries of contact with 
the specific diseases of their country have 



hardened the natives to such an extent as to 
make them virtually safe from the attacks of 
these dread enemies. But the white man com- 
ing into the country for the first time is often 
not able to meet the situation as successfully, 
in spite of the fact that he makes use of every 
convenience which medical science has dis- 

Fortunately the higher regions of the in- 
terior are both more temperate and more 
healthy, so that white people have little trouble 
about establishing themselves on these plateaus. 
South Africa, that is, the section outside the 
tropics, has a climate very agreeable to Euro- 
peans, and therefore work in this part of Africa 
is not attended by the same discomforts as 

The study of the inhabitants of Africa and 
of their languages causes the greatest difficulty. 
According to various accounts there are on this 
continent more than five hundred distinct 
languages to which we must add more than 
three hundred dialects. It seems that tribes 
living only a few miles apart are unable to 
communicate with each other by means of the 
spoken language, and are therefore obliged to 
use the sign language of the interior, one which 
is known throughout the length and breadth 



of Africa and south of the Sudan. All this 
makes the classification of Africa's native pop- 
ulation extremely difficult. According to one 
authority we must distinguish the following 
chief divisions of the people now living in 
Africa: 1. The Berbers, who are the abor- 
igines of the countries along the Mediterranean 
Sea and of the Sahara, most of them being 
Caucasian in origin and physically of a very 
fine type, although their skin is dark; 2. The 
Arabs, tribes originally coming from Western 
Asia and now constituting a great part of the 
population of Egypt and other sections of North 
Africa; 3. The Negroes, mainly in the great 
Sudan, from the Nile westward to the Atlantic 
coast, the purest type being found along the 
coast of the Gulf of Guinea, characterized by 
receding foreheads, high cheek bones, broad 
and flat noses, thick lips, kinky hair, and coal- 
black skin ; 4. The Bantu, including practically 
all the tribes south of the Equator, the Kaffirs, 
the Zulus, the Basutos, the Bechuanas, and 
others, closely resembling the Negroes, but with 
more regular features, and usually not so black 
in color; 5. The Pygmies, the Bushmen, and 
the Hottentots, scattered through the Bantu 
section of Africa, small in stature, nomadic in 



habits, and lowest in the scale of African 

In a recent volume by W. C. Willoughby, 
which has been called the most authoritative 
book on the subject, the inhabitants of Africa 
are divided into six great races, which, however, 
are so mingled that, though all are distinct in 
parts, each is blended with the others in some 
parts. These races are as follows: "The 
Semite (the Arab and Negroid Arab who has 
influenced Africa for at least 2000 years) ; the 
Hamite, a tall, sinewy, broad-shouldered, red- 
dish-brown, straight-nosed, thin-lipped trader 
and wanderer; the Negro, a burly, long-armed, 
short-legged, black, woolly-haired, broad- and 
flat-nosed man with projecting lips and jaws; 
the Bantu, a mixed race (probably a fusion of 
Hamites and Negroes) by far the greatest of 
the African peoples; the Bushman, a merry, 
very primitive, music-loving soul, about five 
feet high, slim, sinewy, with broad forehead, 
flat nose, and wide mouth and rusty wolly tufty 
hair ; and the Hottentot, the real South African 
(with a Bushman strain and probably some 
Hamitic blood in him) some five feet six 
inches tall, ranging in color from tawny to dark 
brown, woolly-haired, with broad flat nose and 
Negro lips." 



The religions of Africa are another great 
problem for any one who wishes to become ac- 
quainted with the difficulty of missionary work 
on this great continent. One of the greatest 
authorities in the field, Dr. C. H. Patton, taking 
the total population of Africa as 130,000,000, 
makes the estimate that of this number 18,- 
000,000 are Pagans, 14,000,000 Mohammedans, 
and 10,000,000 Christians. But we must not 
forget that these 10,000,000 Christians include 
some 7,000,000 members of the Abyssinian, 
the Coptic, and the Roman Catholic Church, of 
which the former two have decidedly lost their 
specific Christian character. Only about 3,- 
000,000 of Africa's inhabitants are Protestant 
Christians, and therefore the continent chal- 
lenges the world with more than 120,000,000 
people who do not know the way of salvation 
in Christ. 

The situation is all the more difficult because 
of the nature of Mohammedanism and of the 
African Paganism. The outstanding feature 
of Mohammedanism is its fanaticism, and while 
the religion is no longer spread with fire and 
sword, it is the greatest menace to missions in 
Africa, its missionaries being extremely active 
far beyond the boundaries of the Sudan and 
rapidly conquering sections of Africa south of 



the equator. The Paganism or Fetishism which 
is the native religion of a large part of Africa 
is a form of Animism or the worship of spirits. 
It is a religion of almost unbelievably terrible 
darkness. It believes in numerous horrible 
demons, and the Pagan native of Africa thinks 
of these as surrounding him on every side, 
continually seeking to do him injury and to 
bring about his death. These demons are sup- 
posed to inhabit every object, whether pos- 
sessing life or not, plants, trees, rocks, rivers, 
reptiles, birds, beasts, and also deceased rela- 
tives. To escape the harm wrought by these 
evil spirits, the native will resort to various 
charms or fetishes, which usually consist of 
strangely carved figures or curious natural ob- 
jects, such as heads of birds, teeth of lions, 
leopards, and serpents, pieces of glass, strange- 
ly formed pebbles, human bones and various 
other objects, which he wears on his body to 
give him protection against the spirits. 

The strange religion of Africa has given 
rise to a number of horrible practices. It has 
undoubtedly led to human sacrifices, in order to 
supply the needs, to win the favor, and to avert 
the vengeance of the spirits. It has been re- 
sponsible for the practice of burying the wives 
of a chief with his dead body, as bad as the 


suttee of India. It has even resulted in canni- 
balism, of which it is believed that the practice 
originated as a sacrificial feast. Above all, this 
belief in spirits has caused the practice of 
witchcraft and of trials for witchcraft, the 
fiendish system which has taken countless lives, 
who become victims of the witch doctor's 
poisoned cup. One careful observer estimates 
that 4,000,000 people have been killed in one 
year in the endeavor to discover witches. Some- 
times entire districts have been depopulated by 
witch trials. No wonder that the same man 
makes the following summary concerning the 
religious conditions in Africa: "Delicacy per- 
mits but the most guarded references to the 
revolting brutality and nauseating licentious- 
ness which are the legitimate offspring of 
Pagan gods and religion. To be consistent with 
his perverted conceptions of religion the 
African cannot be other than he is. ... The 
Pagan African is what he is because of his 
religion. . . . The religion of the African 
is a religion of terror and hate. In the things 
which pertain to God he lives in abysmal dark- 
ness. When most religious, he is most fiendish." 
So far as mission work in Africa is con- 
cerned, it is most remarkable that efforts were 
made at a very early date to win sections of the 



great continent for Christ. Some authorities 
believe that the Eunuch of Queen Candace of 
Ethiopia established Christianity in the country 
south of Egypt. It is certain that the Christian 
religion was here established by the fourth 
century, the work being usually ascribed to 
Frumentius. In Egypt Christianity was estab- 
lished before the middle of the first century, 
the Evangelist John Mark being named as the 
one who founded the first Christian congrega- 
tion at Alexandria. By the end of the first 
century large parts of Egypt and Lybia had 
been Christianized, and the Gospel was grad- 
ually carried westward and southwestward as 
far as the Atlantic coast, and to the southern 
boundary of the Sahara Desert. By the middle 
of the fourth century there were hundreds of 
bishops in the Christian Church of Africa, and 
by 411 the number of Christian bishops from 
Northwestern Africa alone, meeting in the city 
of Carthage, was 565. All these churches were 
swept away when the Mohammedans invaded 
Africa between the seventh and the tenth 

Modern missions in Africa began in the 
southern part, and the most successful work 
has been done in the section south of the tropics. 



Here the names of George Schmidt, Robert 
Moffat, David Livingstone, Samuel Crowther, 
and others are notable. Every one of these men 
is worthy of special notice, and books contain- 
ing their biographies will prove of great value 
in stimulating missionary interest. 

The difference between the conditions in 
Africa before and after the coming of the mis- 
sionaries is well pictured by Vachel Lindsay in 
his poem on the Congo. His description is, in 
part, as follows : 

"A roaring epic, rag-time tone 
From the mouth of the Congo 
To the Mountains of the Moon. 
Death is an Elephant, 
Torch-eyed and horrible, 
Foam-flanked and terrible. 
BOOM, steal the pigmies, 
BOOM, kill the Arabs, 
BOOM, kill the white men, 
HOO, HOO, HOO. . . . 
Then along that river, a thousand miles 
The vine-snared tress fell down in files. 
Pioneer angels cleared the way 
For a Congo paradise, for babes at play, 
For sacred capital, for temples clean, 
Gone were the skull-faced witch-men lean. 
There, where the wild ghost-gods had wailed 
A million boats of the angels sailed 



With oars of silver, and prows of blue 
And silken pennants that the sun shone through. 
Twas a land transfigured, 'twas a new creation. 
Oh, a singing wind swept the negro nation 
And on through the backwoods clearing flew: 
'Mumbo-Jumbo is dead in the jungle. 
Never again will he hoo-doo you. 
Never again will he hoo-doo you'." 

In the present study we are especially in- 
terested in Abyssinia, formerly known as 
Ethiopia, where Frumentius labored. We are 
told that an Ethiopic translation of the Bible 
was completed before the end of the fourth 
century. For about ten centuries the religion, 
as thus established, spread slowly throughout 
the country. At the end of the fifteenth cen- 
tury Jesuit missionaries, with the help of 
Portuguese soldiers, tried to win over the 
Abyssinian Christians to the Roman Catholic 
Church, but the attempt was a failure. The 
result was the same in 1621, and afterward in 
1750. Abyssinian Christianity is a strange 
mixture of Christianity, Judaism, and Moham- 
medanism, and it is hard to imagine how a 
change can be brought about from within. Our 
story concerns itself chiefly with a modern 
attempt to win Abyssinia for the truth and to 



establish mission stations throughout Central 
Africa, from the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of 
Guinea. For the man who began this work 
and whose impetus is felt to this day, was John 
Ludwig Krapf . 





John Ludwig Krapf, pathfinder and pio- 
neer among the explorer-missionaries of Africa, 
was born at Derendingen, near Tuebingen, on 
January 11, 1810. This was just three years 
before another great explorer-missionary was 
born, namely David Livingstone, and it is a 
remarkable fact that Henry M. Stanley became 
acquainted with both of these missionaries in 
the Dark Continent. The little village of 
Derendingen is located in the foothill district 
of the Schwarzwald, or Black Forest, one of the 
most beautiful sections of Wurttemberg. His 
people were farmers, his father being regarded 
as wealthy. Incidentally he was most interested 
in giving his son as good an education as he 
could afford. 

When John Ludwig had finished the village 
school, he was sent on to the Latin school at 
Tuebingen. He was then only thirteen years 
of age, and the grammar school interested him 
greatly, as well as the classical languages, Latin 
and Greek, with which he became acquainted in 
this school. But his greatest interest was in 
maps and geography. While other boys pre- 
ferred to read stories or to play games, little 



Ludwig would be sitting in some corner poring 
over a precious map which some teacher had 
given him, and he was soon acquainted with 
every continent, especially by the water routes. 
He often played a game with himself, according 
to which he would visit some foreign country, 
starting out from one of the harbors of Ger- 
many and then making the voyage through the 
various bodies of water. He knew the chief 
harbors of the world so thoroughly that he was 
able to tell just what kind of shipments one 
might expect from any one of them. He became 
acquainted with a book of geographical descrip- 
tion by Bruce, the title of which was "Journeys 
in Abyssinia." This he devoured with a great 
deal of concentration, so that he was familiar 
with every part of the African country long 
before he ever thought of visiting Abyssinia in 
the capacity of missionary. 

At the age of fourteen Ludwig expressed 
the decided wish to become a captain of a great 
ocean ship, and thus see other countries. His 
father was ready enough to entertain this sug- 
gestion, but when he made further inquiries 
concerning the expenses connected with naval 
training, he found that he would, after all, not 
be able to help his boy in gaining his heart's 
desire, and so the idea had to be given up. 


It was about at this time that a peculiar 
incident turned the thoughts of the boy to the 
work of the missionary. The head master of 
the school in Tuebingen one day read to his 
boys a pamphlet on missionary work and on 
the spread of Christianity among the heathen. 
The pupils were afterwards to embody the chief 
points of this pamphlet in an essay. Ludwig 
had never before heard anything about mis- 
sions, but the earnest appeal made by this 
teacher so impressed him that he began to think 
about becoming a missionary. 

When young Krapf had finished this work 
at the grammar school, the question was natur- 
ally raised what he wished to study next, upon 
entering the university. The discussion turned 
to medicine and to law. But the boy stated 
that he preferred theology, his only fear being 
that he could not pass in Hebrew. Meanwhile 
he had been asking himself a very serious 
question, one which young people in any teach- 
ing position might well ask themselves, "How 
can I think of teaching others when I know 
so little of my Savior myself?" Thereupon he 
made up his mind to begin a very careful and 
systematic study of the Bible. All this served 
to keep him in contact with the Church and its 
work, and there can be no doubt that he was 



a true Christian at that time. More and more 
the determination grew in him to become a 
foreign missionary, to bring the Gospel to 
people who had never yet heard of their Savior. 
When young Krapf was seventeen years old, 
he went to Basel, in Switzerland, to be trained 
as missionary. In many respects the choice of 
this school was to be commended very highly. 
As early as 1780 there had been an organization 
in Basel which had in mind the encouragement 
of pure doctrine and of true piety. Among the 
publications of this organization was a little 
paper or periodical called "Collection for Lovers 
of Christian Truth," and the purpose of the 
little magazine was to bring reports from the 
foreign mission field, in order to awaken the 
interest of its readers for work in heathen 
countries. At first all the gifts for missions 
were sent to Halle, Herrnhut, and London, but 
in 1815 Blumhardt and Spittler, who had been 
the secretaries of the organization, founded a 
school for the training of mission workers. At 
this time the institution did not yet send out 

In 1816 these indefatigable workers 
founded the "Magazine for Missions" of Basel, 
in which they reported on the mission work of 
the day in every part of the world. So clear, 


thorough, and interesting were the reports 
made in this manner, that gifts came in not 
only from every part of Switzerland and Wurt- 
temberg, but also from the most distant parts of 
Germany. Many mission societies were formed 
in cities and villages, and the interest in the 
work grew by leaps and bounds. In consequence 
of this awakened interest a great many young 
men who where interested in foreign missions, 
came to Basel, in order to be trained for their 
great vocation. While the institute was not 
confessional and did not offer a complete semi- 
nary training, it did much to arouse the interest 
of its students, and the practical side of the 
training was distinctly valuable. 

In this school Ludwig Krapf soon felt at 
home. The rules of the school were very severe, 
and in some ways they were not altogether 
wise. In keeping with the pietistic trend which 
was found in the school, the reading of all 
literature of the so-called mystics was forbid- 
den. The chances are that a tactful explanation 
of the reason for this prohibition might have 
kept the students from reading this literature. 
But since such explanation was not given, the 
natural result was that many of the students, 
including also Ludwig Krapf, were eager to find 
out just what mysticism offered. 



One can readily see that the study of this 
field would appeal to the young man in the 
circumstances in which he found himself. For 
mysticism, in the sense in which we use it here, 
is applied to that state of mind according to 
which some people have been said to become 
spiritually, and even physically, united with 
the Godhead. People who are given to this 
strange form of religious ecstasy insist that 
they have practically lost their physical being 
when engaged in thinking about the beauty of 
God. They have stated that they were com- 
pletely submerged in the divine being, that they 
received revelations beyond experience of men, 
and that they were directly inspired by God. 
Wherever there is a state of pietism, or wher- 
ever people have been influenced by pietism, 
they have readily yielded to some form of 
mysticism, feeling themselves united with God 
or with Christ and being filled with the most 
extravagant ecstasy. The experiences of people 
in such states have been dictated by them to 
others, or have been written out by them in 
various volumes, this literature having a pecu- 
liar appeal for men and women, and especially 
young people, who are not sound in their belief 
in the objective relation of the Word of God. 


Such was the literature which Ludwig 
Krapf began to study. The mystical writings 
of a certain Madame Guyon and of the German, 
Jacob Boehme, finally so filled his mind that he 
felt he could not with a good conscience remain 
any longer in the institution at Basel, which 
was conducted at the expense of the mission. 
When he reached his decision, as he himself 
stated because he was convinced of his inner 
unworthiness and inability to take up the call 
of a missionary, he was honest enough to lay 
before the school authorities the reasons for his 
decision. And so he left the school in 1829, 
two years after he had entered it. The ex- 
perience which he thus had, unfortunate though 
it was at the time, undoubtedly had its value in 
the training of Ludwig Krapf, and his practical 
mind soon got away from the tendencies which 
were suggested by the forbidden literature. 

He now returned to Tuebingen, and once 
more faced the question as to the training which 
he wanted to take up at that time. The Univer- 
sity at Tuebingen in those days had an ex- 
cellent reputation. The school had been founded 
in 1477, by Count Eberhard, the purpose being, 
as its charter puts it, "To help dig the founda- 
tion of life, out of which consoling and saving 
wisdom might be drawn from all ends of the 



world, for the quenching of the destructive fire 
of human lack of reason and blindness." The 
institution in its early years, had been strength- 
ened by the addition of another similar organ- 
ization which had been located at Sindelfingen. 
During the century of the Reformation the 
University engaged the teaching of such men 
as Camerarius and Brenz. As a result of their 
labors the first building of the institution had 
to be enlarged, in the year 1560. Since that 
time the University of Tuebingen had been 
known for its conservative theology, although 
the influence of pietism became strong during 
the second half of the seventeenth century. On 
the whole, the institution was still evangelical 
in its general character when Krapf entered, 
although some of the teachers then in office later 
became known for their critical position over 
against the Bible. 

It seems that the impression gained during 
his stay at Basel kept Ludwig Krapf from ac- 
cepting statements concerning the Bible which 
did not agree with his earlier high opinion of 
the inspired Word. He passed his University 
examination with good success, and in 1834 
finished the course in theology. 

Meanwhile his thoughts had often turned 
to mission work, for he could not get rid of his 



interest in foreign countries and in the great 
needs of pagans in every part of the world. All 
this was once more brought home to him when 
a cousin of his, bearing the same name, entered 
the missionary institute at'Basel. Nevertheless 
the young candidate for the ministery deter- 
mined to take up the work of preaching in his 
home country, after he had occupied the posi- 
tion of tutor not far from his home town. His 
argument was that he would be able to carry 
on work similar to that which his cousin would 
take up in non-Christian lands. Evidently he 
was not yet firmly decided ; his mind was still in 
a state of uncertainty. He accepted a call to a 
charge at Wolfenhausen, where the neglected 
condition of his parish and the work which he 
was obliged to do once more called his attention 
to conditions where the Gospel had never been 
heard. He began his work earnestly enough 
and seems to have been faithful in the discharge 
of his duties. But that he was still thinking of 
the foreign work is apparent from a letter 
which he wrote at this time. The following 
statements reveal to us just what he thought 
of the situation about the year 1835. He wrote : 
"The inducements to mission work appear to 
me in a new light. In the needs of my congre- 
gation I recognized those of non-Christians in 



a measure which affected me very deeply; in 
their sorrow I recognized the wretchedness of 
the heathen; the cry for help from my own 
congregation seemed an echo from heathen 
lands. The grace which I myself enjoyed, and 
which I commended to my own people was, I 
felt, for the heathen as well, but there may be 
no one to proclaim it to them. In this country 
every one may without difficulty find the way 
to life; in those lands there may be no one to 
show the way. Here, in almost every house the 
Holy Scriptures may be found; there, the 
Scriptures are only scantily distributed. This 
seems to me a powerful incentive to think 
seriously of missionary work." 

The crisis came in 1836. At this time Krapf 
met a missionary by the name of Fjellstedt. 
At about the same time certain utterances 
which he made from his pulpit gave offense to 
the church authorities, and he was told that he 
must give up his charge at Wolfenhausen. At 
about the same time, also, the secretary of the 
Church Missionary Society of England made 
a trip to southern Germany, and also to Basel. 
His purpose was to look for young men as 
recruits for his society, since the Basel Mission 
Institute, in the early days, supplied quite a 
few missionaries to that great English society. 



We regret exceedingly that the truth was not 
completely upheld in many of the transactions 
of this kind, although we recognize fully the 
great value of the work done by some of these 
staunch workers in the mission fields. For 
among men who at that time went out into 
heathen countries were workers like Pfaender, 
whose work concerned missions among the 
Mohammedans, Schoen, who worked in the 
tropics of Western Africa, and Klein, who was 
a pioneer missionary in Northern Africa. 
Krapf met the secretary of this society, and as 
a result he once more entered the mission in- 
stitute, if he had not even before this made 
application for admission, and in the following 
year he entered the service of the society. It 
so happened that a former student of the mission 
institute at Basel had been selected by the 
Church Missionary Society to go to Abyssinia, 
but he had died in the meantime, and so Krapf 
was asked if he would go instead. Since he was 
now stronger in every respect and better equip- 
ped for the work than ever, he declared his 
willingness to go wherever his services might 
be needed, and so John Ludwig Krapf received 
his commission as missionary to Abyssinia, in 
Northeastern Africa. This was early in 1837. 





Abyssinia was our missionary's goal, and it 
seemed fortunate that he had, on account of 
his youthful interest in this country, gathered 
so much information concerning it. Undoubt- 
edly he looked forward to some wonderful ex- 
periences in this country, for it is a land of 
strange and interesting contrasts. The most 
outstanding physical features of the country 
are those of its vast series of table lands. These 
plateaus are themselves of great elevation, and 
from them rise numerous ranges of high and 
rugged mountains, some of them of very singu- 
lar forms, and strewn over the surface of the 
country in apparently the wildest confusion. 
Some of the most remarkable and loftiest sum- 
mits occur in the center of the northern part 
of the country. The Ras Dashan is more than 
15,000 feet high, and is capped with perpetual 
snow. Other mountains, like Abba Yared and 
Buahit, are said to be even higher. Along the 
entire eastern side of the country, where it 
borders on Eritrea and on French and British 
Somaliland, extends a mountain range or es- 


-- ig{ JOHN LUDWIG KRAPF }*>- 

carpment forming a natural barrier or rampart, 
with an average elevation of seven to eight 
thousand feet for a distance of some six hun- 
dred miles. No volcanoes are known to exist 
at present, but there are many evidences of 
volcanic action in the past. From the moun- 
tains flow inexhaustible supplies of water, 
which pour down into the deep canyons and 
ravines of the country, thereby giving to the 
plains and valleys of the lowlands a wonderful 
fertility, rich in the most valuable products of 
the soil. The principal river of Abyssinia is 
the Tacazze (Takkazye), which flows through 
the northern part of the country. The Blue 
Nile has its origin in Lake Tsana. This river 
is called the Abbay in its upper portion. In the 
earlier part of their courses, as long as the 
rivers of Abyssinia are flowing over the com- 
paratively level surface of the table lands, they 
are not much more than -muddy brooks, almost 
disappearing in the dry season. But during 
the rains they overflow their banks and set the 
plains for miles under water. 

From the sea level to a height of about 3,000 
feet the plants are mainly tropical; from that 
point to a little more than a mile in height the 
subtropical plants are found ; and between 
6,000 and 9,000 feet high the vegetation of 



temperate climates is everywhere in evidence, 
the principal grains being wheat, barley, maize, 
and teff . Of the last grain two crops are ob- 
tained yearly, the seed being sown in one field, 
while harvesting is going on in the next. 
Among other vegetable products of the country 
may be mentioned ebony, coffee, gum, balsam, 
incense, and various medicinal plants. 

The description of some travellers a few 
years ago will be of value in understanding the 
topography of Abyssinia and the character of 
its inhabitants. Speaking of the great plateau 
of the country, one of them says : "The plateau 
over which we were to travel for the next two 
months slopes upwards from the low plains of 
the Sudan, rising gradually higher and higher 
until the extreme eastern edge is reached. At 
this point the plateau breaks abruptly into a 
great escarpment, the first drop of which is 
one of fully 5,000 feet. Its surface is cut by 
streams, the larger of which flow through 
canyons of great extent and of forbidding 
depths. The aspect of the country is extremely 
mountainous, and the canyons present great 
difficulties to the traveller. They necessitate 
either very hazardous descents and climbs or 
detours of many miles, in either case much 



time being lost. The trails, as far as possible, 
follow the high ground." 

The people of Abyssinia present one of the 
greatest problems to the student of ethnog- 
raphy. In the northwest we find tribes who are 
of Caucasian stock, with some mixture of 
Nubian tribes which were driven to this country 
in early times. Farther south are the Falashas, 
who profess a somewhat ancient form of 
Judaism, and may be descendants of some 
Jews who settled in southern Egypt before 
the Christian era. In addition there are 
some Hamitic tribes, most of whom have been 
under the rule of Semites with whom they have 
mingled to some extent. To the southwest are 
the Amharas, whose language is used in litera- 
ture, as well as in commerce and diplomacy. 
The larger part of the southern section of 
Abyssinia is occupied by the Gallas, a powerful 
tribe with whom our missionary became well 

Of course Ludwig Krapf was familiar not 
only with the general description of the country, 
but he was also fully aware of the strange re- 
ligion which he would find in Abyssinia. As 
we learned in Chapter I, Christianity was in- 
troduced into the country at an early date, but 
it was soon mixed with other religions and lost 


its purity. One of its characteristic doctrines 
is the so-called Monophysite teaching, which 
denies the human nature of Christ. The whole 
aspect of its Christianity has now been changed 
to the mixture of Judaism, Christianity, Mo- 
hammedanism, together with pagan customs. 
The churches, usually small and poorly con- 
structed, are arranged in a manner similar to 
that of the Jewish temple. The Virgin Mary 
is regarded very highly, and the number of 
saints is large. 

The same traveller who has given us a pen 
picture of the general aspect of Abyssinia also 
describes certain religious features and customs 
of the country with which he became acquainted 
during his stay. We read in his account: "I 
visited the two churches at Ankober, which 
stood in the approximate center of the country. 
The first was quite new, the decorations being 
unfinished at the time. The typical church 
building of Abyssinia is circular, but this one 
was a many-sided structure. In all churches 
of this type the central part of the building is 
occupied by a second circular structure con- 
taining many sacred objects and books. During 
church services the priest performed their 
ceremony in this inner structure, the public 
being admitted only to the corridor which 



encircles it. The floor of the corridor is usually 
covered with a sweet-smelling grass which is 
fragrant even when dry. This building evi- 
dently superseded an older one, since two kings 
were buried within a few yards of it. 

"The second church, on the other side of 
Ankober Hill, was one of the most interesting 
that I found in the entire country. It may have 
been a hundred years old; it was circular in 
form, and it was decorated in the most gaudy 
of modern Ethiopian paintings. The outer wall 
of the inner sanctuary was covered with a great 
many paintings representing Biblical scenes, at 
least in part. But it must be confessed that the 
artist includes Abyssinian history and added a 
few fancies of his own. The colors were the 
brightest that can be gotten from aniline dyes. 
They were assembled rather than mixed, and 
as a collection of pigments the work was a huge 
success. Beside the Biblical scenes there were 
processions of Ethiopian kings, ocean sail boats 
without any apparent purpose, and, in one case, 
a cannibal sitting before a human body care- 
fully cut apart for his meal. Before the doors 
leading into the sanctuary were the ceremonial 
drums,one of these being of silver . . . An 
aged priest escorted me through the building, 
and at the conclusion of the tour I presented 


a small donation to the church. There followed 
a scene which afterwards became familiar to 
me, but which was at that time quite novel. 
He stopped me and all the natives nearby and 
offered a long series of prayers for my safe 
return to my country." 

We also have descriptions of the great 
Abyssinian festivals, just as they have been 
conducted for many centuries, and as Krapf 
saw them, partly to his great disgust. Almost 
a hundred miles north of Ankober is the town 
of Lalibela, which is known as the Jerusalem 
of Ethiopia. Of this town a recent traveller 
says : "Our visit to Lalibela was the most in- 
teresting single incident of our trip. It seems 
unbelievable that a city which is so important 
in the religious life of a country could be so 
little known, for it is, in a way, the religious 
center of Abyssinia, to which also all the pil- 
grims of the Amharas regularly come. 

"The Christmas celebrations are the climax 
of the Coptic pageantry of Ethiopia, and thou- 
sands of believers come from the various prov- 
inces, camping about the hills until every avail- 
able site is occupied . . . When we arrived 
near Lalibela thousands of pilgrims were 
gathered before the villages and the high priest 
awaited us on the open hillside, with scores of 



his priests as a background, all of them dressed 
in their most elaborate costumes blue, red, 
purple, and other colored cloth embroidered in 
gold. Gold and silver crosses of large size 
abounded and there were dozens of bright 
colored parasols with gold fringes. After the 
preliminary songs, greetings, and prayers for 
our safety were over, the priests danced for us, 
as their predecessors probably did in Palestine 
before the Christian era. 

"Lalibela's Christmas morning came. The 
festivities began early. The crowds had as- 
sembled long before we arrived, but space was 
reserved for us on the wall of the partitions 
surrounding Mascali Jesus, the church where 
the celebration was to take place. The pro- 
cession of priests, dancing and singing, was to 
encircle the wall, while a second detachment 
marched through the tightly packed courtyard 
about the church. Of the 30,000 pilgrims who 
came to see the rites not more than 1,000 were 
able to see them all, though the lines of 
encircling priests must have been visible from 
all parts of the village. When the procession 
started, the walls where the priests were to go 
were jammed with spectators. At the head of 
the procession marched three young men carry- 


ing long leather whips, with which they cleared 
the way. 

"The people could do little more than move 
back closely to the walls, as there were court- 
yards of other churches behind them. They did 
pack themselves solidly, and the procession 
slowly advanced, stopping for minutes at a 
time when songs were sung and dances were 
performed. The costumes were even more 
gorgeous than on the day of our arrival. Every 
costume in the possession of the churches was 
worn by some one, and every sacred object was 
carried out for the public to look upon. The 
procession took fully two hours to encircle the 

"When the music stopped I made hasty 
adieus and rushed to my mules to get out of 
town ahead of the crowd. Thirty thousand 
Abyssinians had the same idea. We had sent 
our caravan on ahead, and we galloped down 
the mountainside after it, catching up after 
about three hours. We passed many more 
people than it seemed possible could have been 
in the town. With a glass I watched others as 
they came, like ants, swarming along every 
road leaving Lalibela. In the afternoon there 
was an occasional break in the lines, and these 
interruption grew more frequent toward 



night. Occasionally lepers stopped to beg. 
Usually they were on muleback, since it was 
the custom to mount the sufferers when they 
could no longer walk. Hundreds of people 
camped beside us that night, and for days we 
saw them on the road, but most of them soon 
outstripped us, since they travelled light." 

Such were the conditions which Krapf faced, 
as he well knew even before he left Germany. 
It was on February 6, 1837, that Ludwig Krapf 
said farewell to his native land. He travelled 
by way of Marseilles and Malta to Alexandria 
in Egypt. At this point he took a river boat 
to Cairo, where he wanted to gain further in- 
formation concerning routes and equipment for 
the continuation of his journey. Leaving Cairo 
he went eastward to Suez at the head of the 
gulf of the same name. Here he found a boat, 
on which he took passage for Massowa, an 
island off the coast of Eritrea, and the logical 
starting-point for Abyssinia. 

He had arrived in Alexandria in April, and 
in Cairo he had gotten his first glimpse of 
Africa's great curse at that time, the slave 
trade. In the slave market he found the poor 
creatures from the interior lying on the bare 
earth, without the slightest pretense at comfort. 
By day they had to faint in the burning rays 



of the sun ; at night they were placed in a stable 
without any covering except, at the most, a few 
rags around their loins. There they lay, young 
and old of either sex, often in unspeakable filth 
and misery, to be examined by buyers like 
cattle. That their could not even be the faintest 
pretense at morality under such conditions may 
easily be imagined. 

This first experience of slavery gave Krapf 
a new impulse to do everything in his power for 
the spread of the Gospel in the Dark Continent, 
as the most effective remedy for the miseries 
of its people. As he travelled from Suez to 
Massowa and met further sights of a similar 
nature, he was most deeply affected, while his 
determination to continue his missionary labors 
was strengthened from day to day. Leaving 
Massowa as soon as possible, he travelled to the 
highlands of Abyssinia, joining Isenberg and 
Blumhardt, at Adoa (Adua, Adowah) . It was 
the hope of these three men that their united 
labors would bring new life to the Abyssinian 
Church, so that there would be a reformation 
and a purification, whereby it would become a 
missionary church. As was to be expected, the 
priests of the Coptic Church were not at all 
interested in having their customs and their 
religion changed. All the pleading of Krapf 



and his companions availed them nothing, for 
priestly jealousy so influenced the ruling prince 
as to cause him to issue an order that the mis- 
sionaries were to leave his territory at once 
and go back to their own land. 

Since the work in northern Abyssinia 
seemed to be definitely stopped, Krapf now re- 
solved to make an attempt in the southern part 
of the country, in the province of Shoa. But a 
sudden illness compelled him to return to Cairo 
for a short time. After a time he made a second 
attempt to reach Shoa, arriving there in June, 
1839. Isenberg was with him at this time, but 
he returned to Egypt in a few months, leaving 
Krapf to labor alone. Although the king of 
this province now favored his work, the pro- 
gress in Shoa was very slow and discouraging. 
As a matter of fact, the tribe of the Gallas, who 
lived somewhat south of Shoa seemed to be 
more ready to accept the Gospel than the 
nominal Christians of Abyssinia. 

After about two years of work, Krapf was 
again compelled to leave the field of his labors, 
since there seemed to be no hope for the future. 
It was not that he was entirely discouraged, for 
he himself writes at that time that he could 
never stand before the judgment throne of God, 
if he would not make an earnest effort to bring 



the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its purity to 
this part of Africa. 

It seems strange that the faithful work of 
Krapf was not viewed with any degree of favor 
by the more intelligent men of Abyssinia, and 
that he did not receive stronger support in his 
ventures from the men who had encouraged 
him to make the great sacrifice. Nevertheless 
he occasionally found a bit of satisfaction in 
hearing that missionaries in other parts of the 
world were received in an entirely different 
fashion, sometimes almost with eagerness, and 
that their work was appreciated. Thus we find 
that a heathen made the following statement 
about the work of the missionaries : 

"I have watched the missionaries, and I have 
seen what they are. What have they come to 
this country for? What tempts them to leave 
their parents, their friends, and their country, 
and to come to this, to them, unhealthy clime? 
Is it for gain or profit that they come? Some 
of us, country clerks in government offices, re- 
ceive larger salaries than they. Is it for an 
easy life? See how they work and then tell me. 
Look at this missionary ! He came here a few 
years ago, leaving all, and seeking only our 
good. He was met with cold looks and suspi- 
cious glances, and he was shunned and ma- 



ligned. He sought to talk with us of what he 
told us was the matter of most importance in 
heaven and earth, but we would not listen. 
.... Now what is it that makes him do all 
this for us? It is his Bible ! I have looked into 
it a good deal, at one time or another, in the 
different languages I chance to know it is just, 
the same in all languages. The Bible f There 
is nothing to compare with it, in all our sacred 
books, for goodness, and purity, and holiness, 
and love, and for motives of action. Where did 
the English people get all their intelligence and 
energy and cleverness and power? It is their 
Bible that gives it to them. And now they 
bring it to us and say, 'That is what raised us ; 
take it and raise yourselves.' They do not force 
it upon us, as did the Mohammedans with their 
Koran, but they bring it in love, and translate 
it into our languages, and lay it before us and 
say, 'Look at it, read it, examine it, and see if 
it is not good.' Of one thing I am convinced ; 
do what we will, oppose it as we may, it is the 
Christian's Bible that will, sooner or later, work 
the regeneration of our land." 





Krapf's first work in Abyssinia had prac- 
tically been without results. While the king of 
this province was at that time not opposed to 
the work of the missionaries, the priests of the 
Coptic Church succeeded without much trouble 
in having their people ignore the missionaries 
or in making their work impossible. When 
Krapf left Shoa, he had two objectives in mind. 
He had been given to understand that two 
further missionaries had been commissioned to 
join him, having now arrived on the Abyssinian 
coast. His second reason for leaving Shoa at 
this time was to meet his future wife in Egypt. 
Due to various circumstances, Krapf made the 
journey down to the coast on foot, which was 
in itself a very hazardous undertaking, because 
the roads down the eastern escarpment in all 
parts of Abyssinia are steep and dangerous. 
But Krapf, with his customary energy, suc- 
ceeded in making his way down to the place 
where he hoped to find his fellow missionaries. 
He suffered from robbery, from hunger, and 
from the fatigues of travel, all of which left 



him undaunted. But when he arrived at his 
destination on the coast, expecting to find 
Muehleisen and Mueller there, he learned that 
these. two men had returned to Egypt. They 
did not possess the undaunted spirit of Krapf, 
but were like John Mark on Paul's first mis- 
sionary journey, for we are told that this young 
man also forsook Paul and Barnabas when they 
were facing the perils of a mountain journey 
through a hostile country, returning to the com- 
forts to which he had become accustomed. 
Under the circumstances, and quite apart from 
his private concerns, Krapf found it necessary 
to visit Egypt, in order that he might, if possi- 
ble, bring back the two brethren who had fled 
from the difficulties of their position. 

Men who have been missionaries in foreign 
countries for many years have remarked that 
this feature is the most difficult part of the 
work. It seems more a mental state than an 
actual facing of dangers. Young men arriving 
in the field find conditions different from those 
to which they have been accustomed at home. 
It does not necessarily follow that these condi- 
tions are less bearable than those to which they 
have been accustomed all their lives, but it is 
the novelty of the situation which opposes them. 
If they once overcome the natural timidity 


caused by the situation and fit themselves into 
new conditions, the result is usually very favor- 
able to their successful work in the mission. 
In fact, many a young missionary, and many a 
young wife of a missionary, having once ad- 
justed themselves to conditions as they find 
them, have enjoyed their work immensely, and 
not in the sense of a personal sacrifice either. 

The fact that Krapf was to meet the woman 
who had promised to become his helper in the 
great work caused his spirits to be buoyant 
and his mind to become even more keen and 
eager than usual. His marriage was frankly 
undertaken in the interest of his work, for he 
found that he could hardly do justice to certain 
features of his missionary labors unless he had 
a wife by his side. Rosine Dietrich had been 
engaged to another missionary by the name of 
Kuehnlein, but this man had died at Marseilles 
in 1837. Krapf had never seen her, but he had 
every reason to believe that she was full of 
courage and devotion to the cause. For this 
reason he wrote to her quite frankly, explain- 
ing the circumstances and appealing to her to 
join him in the great work. Miss Dietrich 
looked upon the entire situation in the same 
light as Krapf, and therefore agreed to meet 
him in Egypt. Accordingly they were married 



in Alexandria, in September 1841, and Rosine 
Dietrich proved to be a loving, faithful, and 
steady helpmeet in all the difficulties and dan- 
gers of his career. Here name may well be 
placed beside some of the other great women in 
the annals of missions, such as Isabella Tho- 
burn, Irene Petrie, Eliza Agnew, Ann Hassel- 
tine Judson, Rebecca Wakefield, Mary Slessor, 
Pandita Ramabai, and many others. 

It was after but a short furlough that Krapf 
and his wife set their faces southward to return 
to the field of labor which the Lord had given 
them. Just what it meant to travel through 
this section of Africa, up the Nile and into the 
wilderness, at that time, may be seen from an 
account which speaks in a very vivid way of the 
difficulties which beset the traveller. We read 
of a journey through this section of Africa: 
"After the first five days up the Nile we ap- 
proached the big game country. Hundreds of 
hippos splashed in the shallows of the river. 
Whenever we rounded a bend in the river we 
were apt to see dozens of pink noses and pig- 
like faces turn toward us. They would sink 
almost immediately, then rise and peek at us; 
then sink again, rise and shake the water out 
of their ears and eyes, and peek and sink once 
more. One frolicsome fellow hurled himself 



clear of the water and dove like a fish. Con- 
sidering his bulk this was no bad show of 
agility. And as for ourselves, we became more 
and more convinced that shooting these fat and 
inquisitive animals could not be called hunting. 

"Water bucks, gazelles, and antelopes dotted 
the landscape. There was an infinite variety 
of horned animals. On every bank we saw 
crocodiles sunning themselves, lazy, deliberate 
fellows, who reminded us of pre-historic mon- 
sters. They were twice as large as our imagi- 
nation had pictured them beforehand, and when 
we ran across them farther inland, they stood 
up on really long legs and wabbled away with 
a good deal of speed. When they were near 
the water, they slid in with scarcely a splash. 
We saw storks and cranes, herons and hawks 
and eagles, and many varieties of ducks, 
pelicans, and scores of other birds for which 
we had no name. All day long flights or birds 
were passing overhead, and feathered conven- 
tions were assembling along the shores. 

"The country so far was flat and dotted with 
trees. The soil was black and rich, and the 
natives evidently lived an easy life. No one 
has yet found a plan by which the native 
Africans may be induced to work. They seem 
to wish for nothing that is not free and under 



their hands. They wear practically no clothing, 
live in grass and mud huts, and find amuse- 
ments in hunting, fishing, singing, frolicking 
about, and decorating their bodies. They have 
evolved a school of arts and decoration for the 
human body which certainly excites wonder. 
The variations are so plentiful as to amaze the 
newcomer to the country. They wear teeth and 
bone bracelets, metal anklets and nose rings, 
curious amulets and charms, and odd bits 
carved from ivory. Meanwhile the land and 
civilization languish. 

"I never saw so many nor such a variety of 
insects. We observed two or three families of 
mosquitoes ; white ants, black ants, red ants, and 
flying ants ; spiders from the size of a pin head 
to the size of a dollar; large green flies, cattle 
flies, horse flies, and other flies ; gnats and sand 
flies which were so small that they could easily 
pass through a mosquito net, when they 
promptly burrowed in one's flesh ; dragon flies, 
big buzzers, aeroplane stingers and darning 
needles on wings ; gnats and ticks and a dozen 
varities of grasshoppers. They blew in from 
the marshes and covered the decks and us. 
There was no way to keep them off except by 
wearing puttees or riding boots; in addition 
one had to wear gloves and keep his face 



covered with a heavy veil. The natives did not 
bother to any extent. At night they held a 
torch over a hole in the ground. The light 
promptly attracted thousands of flying ants, 
which were scorched an then dropped in. When 
the hole was filled, the feast began, for the 
natives ate the insects. 

"We passed still farther up the river into 
the high grass country, in whose swamps grow 
the papyrus grasses from which the writing 
material of the ancient Egyptians was made. 
These papyrus thickets once blocked the channel 
of the Nile and made navigation impossible. 
To this day great islands break away from the 
banks and occasionally obstruct the channel. 

"In this high grass we encountered a herd 
of some twelve wild elephants, within thirty 
yards of the boat. Then we found out how fast 
an elephant can travel. When they saw our 
boat they lifted their trunks and started to 
amble off in a leisurely fashion. Within a few 
minutes they were mere specks on the horizon. 
Hunters do not dare to go after these big beasts 
in this region, for if wounded the elephant may 
charge, and when this happens it is advisable 
to have solid footing or some substantial place 
of refuge. 

"Going up the Nile is an adventure in nav- 



igation, for there are numerous sandbars, and 
between trips they change from one side of the 
river to the other. Once a day, at least, we ran 
aground solidly, although our boat drew only 
four feet of water. They we would churn the 
water back, go forward, turn left, turn right, 
and after a certain length of time the soft 
mud would be ironed out and we would be free 
to go forward again. Once or twice a day we 
ran directly into the bank while attempting to 
make a short turn. In this part of its course 
the Nile winds a good deal, and to hold the 
channel we would keep to the extreme outside 
of each bend. There the water was deeper 
perhaps. When we reached a native village we 
simply plowed into the mud and put out a gang 

Krapf and his wife, together with Isenberg 
and Muehleisen, were fully determined to get 
back to the province of Shoa. Mrs. Krapf was 
not in the least daunted by the prospect of 
spending her life among the rude people of 
Shoa, nor did she flinch from the dangers of 
the way. But the party found it, after all, im- 
possible to return to Shoa, for when they ar- 
rived at Tajurrah (Tajara) in French Somali- 
land, they received a message from the ruler 
of Shoa forbidding Krapf to enter his domin- 



ions. This act, like the expulsion from Adoa, 
was due to priestly interference. Isenberg and 
Muehleisen now traveled back to Massowa, 
their intention being to reach Gondar, the old 
Portuguese city in northern Abyssinia. Krapf 
and his wife now went to Aden, at the southern 
end of the peninsula of Arabia. They had no 
intention of retreating without first making one 
more supreme effort to get into Abyssinia from 
the south. If nothing else, Krapf wanted to 
reach the land of the Gallas, for it had seemed 
to him that there was a little more chance of 
interesting these people than those in the north- 
ern provinces. But this proved to be imprac- 
ticable, so he determined to follow his two 
fellow laborers, and he was careful to take along 
with him a number of copies of the Ethiopic 
and Amharic Scriptures, so that he might at 
least, by spreading the Bible in the language of 
the people, do what he could for the spiritual 
welfare of Abyssinia. Crossing the Red Sea 
once more, he landed at Massowa, and he and 
his wife began their journey to the interior, in 
company with a trading caravan, their destina- 
tion being the province of Tigre, in northwestern 
Abyssinia. Mrs. Krapf would not think of 
leaving the side of her husband, although she 
was in delicate health, and although she knew 



that they were to pass through some rough and 
desolate country. As a matter of fact, their 
journey took them through a great sand plain, 
with only here and there a clump of trees, the 
great Shoho Desert. As they proceeded on their 
way, the great waste space came together in a 
rocky defile through which ran a river. At this 
point Mrs. Krapf , overcome by the heat and the 
fatigue of the way, prematurely gave birth to a 
daughter having no medical aid, or even the 
assistance of one of her own sex. The baby 
lived but one hour, but it was at once baptized 
by its father, who gave it the name Gneba 
(Eneba), which means tears. The little one 
was buried that same evening at the foot of a 
tree close to their traveling tent, the father 
conducting the funeral service in the Amharic 
language. It was only by the greatest effort 
that Krapf succeeded in obtaining three days 
rest for the young mother, for the wild Shoho 
tribesmen, with whom they were travelling, in- 
sisted on continuing their journey, and so she 
was hurried along with the caravan. Moreover 
it was only by giving the Shoho men a cow and 
a dollar a day that Krapf could persuade them 
to remain for even such a short while. 

And, after all, their journey was in vain, 
as was the mother's sacrifice, for when they 



reached the boundary of Tigre, Isenberg and 
Muehleisen met them with the distressing news 
that the ruler of Tigre had adopted the same 
policy as the prince of Shoa, definitely forbid- 
ding the Europeans to enter his territory. Thus 
every attempt to establish the Gospel in Abys- 
cinia was frustrated. The door was closed at 
Adoa in the north and at Ankober and Shoa in 
the south, while they could not reach Gondar, 
the place where Europeans had lived for more 
than a century. But even then Krapf did not 
lose heart. His faith rose above all discourage- 
ment, and he wrote home in the following deter- 
mined declaration : "Abyssinia will not soon 
again enjoy the time of grace she has so shame- 
fully slighted. Meanwhile we will not cease to 
pray for that unfortunate land, especially com- 
mending to the Lord the many copies of His 
precious Word, that He would bless them and 
make them witnesses of His truth. It is a con- 
solation to us and to dear friends of the mission 
to know that over eight thousand copies of the 
Scriptures have found their way into Abys- 
sinia. They will not all be lost or remain with- 
out a blessing. . . . Faith speaks thus: 
Though every mission should disappear in a 
single day and leave not a trace behind, I would 
still cleave to mission work with my prayers, 



my labors, my gifts, with my body and soul; 
for there is the command of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and where that is there is also His 
promise and His final victory." 

The Krapfs now returned to Aden and, 
without losing further time, made preparations 
for an expedition into the country of the Gallas 
proper, at that time barely tributary to the 
Abyssinian princes. Krapf understood the 
language of this tribe, and felt that he would 
surely have success if he undertook to preach 
the Gospel in their midst. They sailed in an 
Arab vessel in November 1843. But strong 
headwinds and a heavy sea compelled them to 
return to harbor. It seemed as though the 
forces of nature were leagued against them. 
Their boat sprang a leak in the storm, and they 
barely kept themselves afloat by baling with 
the saucepans and bowls with which Mrs. Krapf 
intended to start housekeeping. When they 
reached the entrance to the harbor of Aden, the 
land wind drove the vessel back toward the open 
sea. There was no use trying to launch the 
lifeboat, for it could not carry twenty-five per- 
sons in a rough sea. When they were in the 
utmost extremity, and Krapf and his wife had 
retired to the small cabin for a last prayer to- 
gether, another boat hove in sight, and Krapf 



asked its captain to take them on board. This 
he at first declined to do, and it was only by 
promises and threats that Krapf at last induced 
him to take him and his companions off the 
sinking vessel. No sooner had they been trans- 
ferred than their own boat capsized, and after 
a half hour it sank. So they were once more in 

It was then that Krapf carried out a com- 
mission to go to East Africa and begin work 
in that section of the continent. It was only 
eight days after his last distressing experience 
that Krapf and his wife set out from Aden 
again. After about five or six weeks of slow 
sailing around the eastern cape of Africa, from 
the Gulf of Aden to that of the Indian Ocean 
which is known as the Azanian Sea, they ar- 
rived at Takaungu, a small town north of the 
city of Mombasa. The British consul at Zanzi- 
bar welcomed Krapf and his wife and imme- 
diately set out to get them a letter of intro- 
duction to the coast chiefs from the Sultan of 
Zanzibar. It was a very quaint letter which 
served as his credentials, for it read as follow : 

"In the name of God, the most merciful and com- 
passionate, this letter comes from Said the Sultan. To 
all our friends, governors, and subjects, greeting. This 
letter is written for a Doctor Krapf, who is a good 


man and desires to convert the world to God. Treat 
him kindly: serve him what you can, and everywhere. 
This is written by order of your master." 

Krapf decided to make Mombasa his head- 
quarters, and that in spite of the fact that this 
section of Africa at that time had a terrible 
reputation. The natives were reported as law- 
less, cruel, and violent. But Krapf was not to 
be dissuaded from his purpose. His wife cheer- 
fully went with him to Mombasa, and they chose 
a spot from which the first attempt to penetrate 
into the interior could be made. Unfortunately 
the season was an exceptionally bad one, and 
there was an unusual amount of fever during 
the rainy season. Krapf himself was very ill, 
and it took all the will power which he had to 
fight his way back to health. Barely had he 
recovered when, in July, 1846, his wife fell ill. 
The fever was all the more serious, as she was 
daily expecting to become a mother. A daugh- 
ter was born, but a renewed attack of the fever 
brought her very low. In prospect of death 
she was very much depressed in her mind, and 
she pleaded with her husband for some assur- 
ance that she was really and truly a Christian. 
She prayed: "Oh my Savior, I am unworthy 
to have any place in Thy Paradise, but have 
pity on me, and give me a small corner at the 


edge of Thy glory, that I may be with Thee." 
Her husband's words about the grace of God 
had a very consoling effect upon her, for he 
gave her the assurance: "Christ is as surely 
thine, as thou art mine and I am thine. Do not 
give way to temptations of the Evil One. It is 
time to flee to the Lamb of God that taketh 
away the sins of the world." With such and 
other words she was greatly strengthened. She 
said : "I have obtained grace and mercy from 
the Lord; He has looked upon me; I feel His 
presence as I have never felt it before." She 
then prayed aloud for East Africa, for the 
Sultan, for the natives and the mission work, 
and for her relatives. Again and again she 
asked God to incline the heart of the ruler, so 
that he might promote the eternal welfare of 
his subjects. 

The next day she appeared much better, but 
the following day she was once more in a very 
bad condition, and her husband himself was 
so weakened by fever as to be obliged to leave 
her care almost entirely to servants. When 
Krapf had watched with her from midnight till 
dawn, he begged her to rest. But she said: 
"No, there is plenty of time for rest. Now it is 
time for work." She called her servants, told 
them that she was dying, and that in the face 



of death she had only this to say to them that 
if they followed their Mohammedan doctrines 
they trusted in a delusion. "He cannot help 
you in the hour of death, but Christ can and 
does." Then she turned to her husband and 
said: "Do not forget to speak to every one 
whom you meet about the great truths. Even 
if your words have no effect at the moment, 
they will come to their remembrance in the 
hour of death. Do not sorrow because of me, 
but work while it is day. She asked that her 
letters and diaries should not be published, for 
there was too much of self in them. She also 
asked her husband not to praise her in his 
letters home, because she was not worthy of 
praise, but to say that she, a poor, miserable 
sinner, had received forgiveness through the 
unmerited grace of Jesus Christ. 

Shortly after her fever rose to such a point 
that her mind began to wander. On July llth, 
she was somewhat better, and husband and 
wife could pray together. But on the 12th her 
fever rose once more. Krapf himself had a 
very severe attack, and only now and then could 
he drag himself to her bedside. Her end was 
one of great peace and of perfect submission 
to the divine will. So brave and steadfast was 
she in her last hours, that her husband was 



strengthened and confirmed in his purpose to 
devote his entire life to the missionary con- 
ditions. She asked him to bury her right here 
on the mainland of Africa, in order that the 
sight of her tomb might constantly remind the 
passersby of the great object which had brought 
the servants of the church of Christ to their 
country. "Thus," wrote her husband, "she 
wished to be preaching to them by the lonely 
spot which encloses her earthly remains." On 
the morning of July 13th she breathed her last. 
Krapf himself could hardly get up from his 
bed. He saw her growing stranger to him 
every moment, her glassy eyes and chilling 
body, like a garment left behind, telling him 
only too well that she had gone. The future 
lay dark before him, and he would only too 
gladly have followed her. 

On the next morning, a Sunday, they buried 
her. Krapf just managed to struggle over to 
the graveside. On his return, he found that his 
baby daughter also was ill. She passed away 
during the night, and was laid to rest by her 
mother's side. But Krapf, even in the midst 
of all these trials, found the strength to write, 
in a letter to the secretary of the Church Mis- 
sionary Society: "Tell the committee that in 
East Africa there is a lonely grave of one mem- 


ber of the mission connected with your society. 
This is an indication that you have begun the 
conflict in this part of the world ; and since the 
conquests of the church are won over the graves 
of many of its members, you may be all the 
more assured that the time has come when you 
are called to work for the conversion of Africa. 
Think not of the victims who in this glorious 
warfare may suffer or fall ; only press forward 
until East and West Africa are united in 

The loss of Krapf's wife was for him a 
heartrending experience, but of vast importance 
for his future life, which now became fully 
consecrated to the service of God. The grave- 
stone of his wife became one of the great cor- 
nerstones of the temple of God in Africa. As 
he recovered his strength, he continued his 
work, occasionally making short journeys from 
Mombasa to the mainland among the Wanika, 
anxious to establish a mission station among 
this people, but especially to open the way into 
the interior of Africa, a thought which was 
always very prominent in all his plans. 





That Krapf was full of energy and persever- 
ance must surely be evident to every one who 
has followed this narrative up to the present 
point. Some men have a great deal of courage 
in attacking a problem, but they are also easily 
discouraged. They are willing enough to under- 
take some great mission, and they may even 
succeed in getting it established, but afterwards 
they are just as apt to leave the work when it- 
is only half finished and begin somewhere else. 
Krapf 's perseverance, at the same time, was 
not mere foolhardiness, a stubbornness which 
is not controlled by common sense. He surely 
tried hard enough to open up Abyssinia to the 
Gospel, and even when he found that his under- 
taking was hopeless, so far as personal endeavor 
was concerned, he saw to it that the Scriptures 
were given to the inhabitants of this country 
in the language which they actually understood. 

Work of this kind, like the actual missionary 
labors, was not an easy matter. Those who 
know the field thoroughly tell us that the work 
of translating the Bible into the so-called mis- 
sionary versions is one of the most difficult 



undertakings that men know of. It is true that 
the Bible, as a whole or in parts, has been 
translated into 835 languages and dialects, as 
the American Bible Society has reported in its 
recent bulletin. This is a wonderful achieve- 
ment and may well cause us to rejoice. On the 
other hand, we must remember that Africa 
alone has about 500 distinct languages and 
about 300 additional dialects, and the number 
of scholars who are working in the field is in- 
adequate for the immense task which is before 
them. It is a fascinating undertaking, that of 
translating the Bible into a strange tongue, 
and there are undoubted mental and spiritual 
compensations for the tremendous toil involved, 
toil extending perhaps over twenty years or 
more of the best part of a man's life. It would 
be labor enough to bring the Bible within the 
narrow grasp of the African tribes-man; the 
greater and more necessary labor is to enlarge 
his grasp. 

Let us consider for a few moments the ex- 
ceeding difficulty of much of this work of Bible 
translation. It is not an easy task even when 
the languages under consideration are well- 
known, when they are spoken by civilized 
people, when they have been put down in writ- 
ten form, when there are grammars and diction- 



aries. This is true, at the present time in the 
Arabic, the Persian, and the Chinese language, 
also in the greater languages of India, like Hindi, 
and Bengali, and Tamil. But the difficulty is 
far greater in countries where the language 
has not become thoroughly fixed, where there 
is no written language, where the people have 
no written letters or characters at all, and 
where there are, of course, no grammars or 
dictionaries. It is not much of a task to learn 
French or Spanish or German, with modern 
grammars and textbooks; but what should a 
person do if he were suddenly put down in a 
Spanish village, where no one knows one word 
of English, where there was not a printed 
Spanish book available nor any help to assist 
in learning Spanish ? 

Many a missionary has found himself in a 
position just like that. It was true in the case 
of Ulfilas, the Apostle of the Goths, in the fourth 
century, who was obliged to create a written 
language for his people before he could trans- 
late the Bible into Gothic. So missionaries 
during the last century have been compelled to 
pick up the language bit by bit, often by ear 
only. Some missionaries have offered little 
prizes or presents for every new word which 
they heard and understood, such as a biscuit 



or a few beads. If we listen to a native speak- 
ing, his language is very often nothing but a 
meaningless jabber. Usually we cannot tell 
where one word ends and another begins, and 
even when we have managed to separate them, 
how are we to tell which is a noun and which 
a verb and which an adjective and which a 
preposition? One can manage in reasonable 
time to catch simple words like boy or girl, or 
man or woman, or day and night, or go and 
come, or eat and drink. But this in itself does 
not yet mean that one is able to teach the Gospel 
in the new language, and still less does it mean 
that a person is able to translate the Bible. 

If missionaries find no written language, 
and are therefore obliged to put the new tongue 
into writing for the first time, they usually 
employ our Roman letters. But if there are 
written languages in use, as in India and China, 
the Bible must be printed in the letters or 
characters already used. This means that the 
missionary must not only learn the spoken 
language, but must master the written or 
printed language as well, again a task which is 
by no means small. 

Nor does the difficulty end here, for we are 
obliged to think a little of the difficulties of 
translation. Quite a few tribes in various parts 



of the world have never seen a sheep. How 
can a missionary make these people understand 
the words of Jesus about the good Shepherd in 
John 10, who lays down His life for the sheep? 
How are such people to understand the wonder- 
ful parable of the lost sheep? How may they 
be taught the 23rd Psalm, with its glorious 
assurance : "The Lord is my Shepherd . . . 
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, 
and leadeth me beside the still waters?" And 
how can a missionary, under such circum- 
stances, explain the glorious truth of the Lamb 
of God, which taketh away the sin of the world? 
When the old Saxons were in this position, the 
first translator of the New Testament into their 
language, in the wonderful poem called the 
Heliand, struck this difficulty in the story of 
Christ's birth, he simply substituted horses for 
sheep, and caused the shepherds to become 
men who watched their horses by night. In 
New Guinea there are no sheep, but there are 
pigs; so the missionary shows his charges the 
picture of a sheep, tells them it is about the 
same size as a pig, and makes them learn the 
English word sheep then they get some sort of 
an understanding. They know from experience 
that pigs sometimes wander away and are lost ; 
and the people go and search for them, and 



when they find them they bring them home on 
their shoulders, or carry the little ones in their 
arms. In this way the natives are gradually 
given the understanding of Bible words and 
Bible pictures. 

It is said that there are tribes in Asia, 
especially in the mountain country west of 
China, who had no word for father, nor for 
son, nor for hand, nor for feet. They have 
words or signs which stand for "my father" 
and "your father" and "his father"; also for 
"my feet" and "your feet" and "his feet." They 
say that every father must be somebody's father 
and every hand must be somebody's hand, and 
so their language immediately tells whose 
father or whose hand they are talking about. 
But how is it possible to explain in their lan- 
guage the terms "God the Father" and "God the 
Son?" This difficulty is about as great as 
another one spoken of by Dr. Frierson, for he 
says that some of the mountain tribes have 
only one idea of a feast and of being merry, 
and that is to get hopelessly drunk. How can 
these people be told the parable of the prodigal 
son? Or how could we explain to them the 
Feast of the Passover ? 

The situation becomes still worse if we think 
of some of the special Bible terms which are 



peculiarly significant in the great Christian 
doctrines. There are a great many barbarous 
and ignorant tribes who know of no such words 
as regeneration, justification, and sanctification. 
In Romans 5, 1 we are told that we have peace 
with God. But certain cannibal tribes who are 
always in the midst of war can think of peace 
only as an agreement to quit fighting for a 
little while; the idea of faith is altogether 
strange to them, for they never trust one an- 
other or anybody, and the notion of being justi- 
fied is absolutely foreign to their thinking. 
When work was first begun on the islands of 
the South Seas, it was found that some tribes 
had as many as forty words for murder, but 
not one word for love. How can one make clear 
to such people the fundamental fact of the 
Gospel that God so loved the world that He 
gave His only-begotten Son? 

Let us now look somewhat more closely 
at Africa, the continent in which we are espec- 
ially interested. The following account taken 
from a recent bulletin of the American Bible 
Society will speak for itself. Go among the 
Bulus, for example, and witness the work of 
the translators as described by one of them, 
Dr. Melvin Fraser. "It is as hard to put into 
Bulu certain rich portions of the Scriptures," 



says Dr. Fraser, "as it is to run a six-inch 
stream through a four-inch pipe. Either the 
stream must be reduced or the pipe enlarged." 
The latter expedient was chosen. 

The Bulus had no word for God. They had 
a word, "Zambe," signifying an immortal spirit 
that created man and the gorilla, then went far 
off and left them so shift for themselves. So 
this name was used for "God" in the transla- 
tion. The wisdom, power, holiness, justice, 
goodness, truth and mercy of the Supreme 
Being as revealed in the Bible gave to "Zambe" 
a new and larger personality, "and the Bulu 
soon came to recognize and appropriate a new 
spiritual entity under the old name." Thus was 
the four-inch pipe enlarged to take the full 
stream of the Word. 

Since the Bulus had no equivalent for 
"saints," the translators simply said bot ya 
Zambe, people of God, and these common words 
began to acquire an enlarged meaning. They 
had no term for "conscience." They did have 
a quaint expression, mone mot ya nlem, "little 
man of the heart." So these pointed words are 
used in the Bible translation, and the Bible 
gives the little man of the heart an authority 
over daily conduct that he never before 



Think of the difficulties of translation when 
the native language contains no word for 
"book," no word for "bread," none for "church" 
or "wolf" or "moth" since these things them- 
selves are unknown ! The words, "Their hearts 
are as wolves" would mean nothing to the Bulu r 
but he immediately understands when you say, 
"Their hearts are as leopards." He is not 
troubled by moths, and it would be beside the 
point to warn him not to lay up treasures 
where moth and rust corrupt. But the bibiam, 
hard little insects equipped with tweezers, do 
destroy his property, and the lesson immediate- 
ly goes home when it reads, "Do not lay away 
goods where bibiam and rust eat." Thus ex- 
treme literalness, while strictly adhered to in 
most cases, must sometimes be sacrificed in the 
interest of fidelity to the real significance of 
the text. 

A curious example of how misleading a 
literal translation can be occurs with reference 
to the word "serpent." "When a son asks for 
a fish, will his father give him a serpent?" in- 
quires Jesus. Our mental answer is a horrified 
"No!" The translators knew, however, that 
the Bulus eat snakes and regard them as a 
great delicacy. "A Bulu boy," says Dr. Fraser, 
"would be more pleased at receiving a snake 



from his father than at receiving a fish; for 
thus he would not be bothered by bones and 
scales, would get more meat from a snake than 
from a fish of the same size, and would enjoy 
the meat and skin fully as well as those of a 
fish. The point and force of the illustration 
obviously require that the earthly father shall 
be represented as giving his son something 
good not only good, but better than some other 
thing which he avoids giving, else God's willing- 
ness to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask 
would not be set forth. A fish, as we have seen, 
is not better than a snake, to the Bulu; but it 
is better than a centipede. Accordingly, 
nsanelette, 'centipede,' instead of nyo, 'serpent,' 
is used in the translated text, and the Bulu at 
once understands, reading or hearing thus, that 
as a father gives his loved son a fish, not a 
centipede, so, and much more than so, God is 
willing to give his Holy Spirit to those who 

These few examples may slightly suggest 
the immense labor that is necessary wise, 
patient, loving labor before millions of homes 
are opened to the Bible. 

The same thing, which is so vividly de- 
scribed, is true of about a score of other African 
languages, into which the whole Bible has been 



translated, beside the thirty or more into which 
the New Testament has been translated, and 
smaller portions in over eighty others. In 
South Africa, for example, the great mission- 
ary Robert Moffatt translated the whole Bible 
into the language of the Bechuanas. This grand 
old veteran spoke at a meeting in London and 
in the middle of his speech he stopped, and 
seemed unable to go on. Finally he said: 
"Friends, do forgive me; I am thinking in 
Bechuana and translating my thoughts into 
English as I go along; and I cannot remember 
what the English word is for a Bechuana word 
which I have in my mind!" He had been in 
Africa for over fifty years, and the language 
which he had learned to speak there had become 
almost a mother tongue to him. 

In West Africa a large part of the trans- 
lation of the Bible into the language of the 
Yourbas was done by Samuel Crowther, the 
negro who had been a slave boy and afterwards 
became the first black bishop. In East Africa 
it was an English bishop by the name of Steere 
who made the complete version in the language 
spoken on that coast, and in Uganda, one of the 
latest and most fruitful mission fields, the work 
was done chiefly by two laymen. Mackay of 
Uganda made the first attempt to translate the 



Gospel of Matthew into Luganda, and printed 
it on the spot with his own hands, while the 
great part of the whole Bible was done by 
George Pilkington, another African missionary. 
These versions, and many others, are supplied 
by the British and Foreign Bible Society. 

These few paragraphs will give us some 
idea of the difficulties with which John Krapf 
had to labor when he began his work in Abys- 
sinia, and later in East Africa. It is character- 
istic of the man that he had hardly gotten to 
Abyssinia when he began to collect valuable 
Ethiopic manuscript, which he sent on to 
Europe. For this work the University of 
Tuebingen, about the time when Krapf was 
refused entrance into Abyssinia for the last 
time, conferred the degree of Doctor upon him. 
It is just as characteristic of the man that he 
had been in East Africa hardly six months 
when he began his translation of the Bible into 
the widely-spoken East African trade language, 
the Suahili, and for two years he did little else 
but translation work. He became acquainted 
with many of the languages and dialects of 
East Africa, and he was able to do extensive 
work in various dialects of the Wanika and of 
the Kinika. 

But the work for which Krapf is mostly 



noted is that connected with the Abyssinian 
version. As we have seen, there is a form of 
Christianity in Abyssinia, and one of the ver- 
sions made in ancient times, probably in the 
fourth century, was in Ethiopic, the language 
of that country. But as time went by, the 
mother tongue of this people came to be 
Amharic, and Ethiopic was known only by those 
who studied it, as Latin and Greek is with us. 
In this way it came about that the people of 
this church could not read their own Scriptures. 
This was just as great a misfortune for the 
people of this church as it would be for us if 
we had the Bible only in Hebrew and Greek, 
and only the learned men could understand it. 
But about one hundred years ago there lived in 
Egypt an old Abyssinian monk, whose name 
was Abu Rumi. This man's life had been saved 
by the French consul in Abyssinia,' and the old 
monk considered himself under special obliga- 
tion to his benefactor. The consul hit upon 
the happy idea of having this old man make a 
translation of the ancient Ethiopic version into 
modern Amharic, as spoken by the Abyssinian 
people today. Every week for ten years they 
sat together for two days, working at this im- 
mense task, comparing with the Ethiopic ver- 
sion the original Hebrew, beside the Syriac and 



the Arabic translations. The version which 
they produced in the modern Amharic language 
filled 9,539 pages, all written out by the old 
monk. This translation was seen by a scholar 
by the name of Jowett, of Cambridge, England. 
Realizing that this version might be of great 
importance for Abyssinia, the manuscript was 
purchased for over $7,000, to be used by the 
British Bible Society. In consequence of this 
wisdom and forethought, a great many copies 
of the Scriptures were sold in Abyssinia by the 
missionaries of the early days. One of these, 
of whom we shall hear a little more, was Samuel 
Gobat, afterwards bishop of the Church of Eng- 
land at Jerusalem, and another was John Lud- 
wig Krapf . Sixty years later that same Krapf , 
whose life we are studying, was, in his old age, 
employed by the Bible Society to revise this 
version. The work was completed in 1879, the 
printing being done at the Missionary Press of 
St. Chrischona, a missionary institute near 
Basel. We shall find that Krapf also assisted 
many other translators and revisers who were 
attemping to render the Bible or parts of the 
Bible into languages and dialects of East 






After the death of his wife, Krapf plunged 
into the work which he had undertaken with 
all the energy of his consecrated mind. Abys- 
sinia lay behind him, a bitter experience, but 
not without blessing. East Africa was as yet 
an experiment. In the southern part of the 
continent work had been done with intermis- 
sions for about a century, and on the edge of the 
Black Belt Robert Moffat was even then estab- 
lishing his base for futher progress into the 
interior of the Dark Continent. Krapf was all 
alone for a time on the Zanzibar coast. Men 
like Rebmann became his faithful assistants 
in the difficult work, and their loyalty deserves 
a special chapter. East Africa extended no 
special invitation to the missionaries, and, as 
a matter of fact, the missionary labors of Krapf 
were not very successful in the first years. 
For a long time his only convert was a cripple 
of the tribe of Wanika, and he could do little 
more than barely explore the coast. 

This part of Africa rises from the Indian 
Ocean to the highlands of Ukamba, Kenya, and 



Uganda. Farther up on the plateau is Lake 
Victoria. To the north is Lake Rudolf, to the 
west extends a string of lakes, with Lake 
Albert as the northernmost, then Lake George, 
Lake Edward, Lake Kivu, and finally Lake 
Tanganyika. There is a description of this 
country by a traveller who had the opportunity 
of seeing it from every angle. He writes, in 
part: "The country here is of red soil, gor- 
geously beautiful to the eye. Occasionally we 
passed coffee shambas, where white men were 
attempting to carve a living out of the jungle. 
. . . . One day at Masindi in the Uganda 
territory, we amused ourselves in throwing 
Australian boomerangs. The strange char- 
acteristic of this weapon made the natives 
think it was bewitched, and they scattered in 
wild disorder. For generations these black 
people have been victimized by their witch 
doctors, and as a consequence anything that is 
unusual is an object of terror to them. 

"The town of Jinja rests on the hills of the 
Buganda country, overlooking Lake Victoria. 
This lake is quite a large body of water, some 
250 miles long, second only to Lake Superior 
in size, and the source of the River Nile. While 
we were dining, we could hear the roar of 
the river as it broke away for its journey down 



into Egypt, for the Ripon Falls were only a 
little less than a mile away. Kisumu, on the 
eastern shore of Lake Victoria, is some 3700 
feet above sea level, while Nairobi, in the higher 
mountain country to the east, is nearly 5500 feet 
high. Therefore, when we left Kisumu on the 
little railroad leading down to Mombasa, we at 
once began to climb. The train mounted the 
Kikuyu escarpment, with an elevation of 8000 
feet, and we began to experience arctic cold, 
although this railroad is only a few degrees 
south of the equator. Nairobi is the largest 
town in east central Africa, and a seat of the 
British government. It is very desirably sit- 
uated, and rather pretends to be a city after 
the tropical design, although there is nothing 
tropical about the Kenya colony in which it is 
located. The adjacent country is mountainous. 
The naked native blacks seem out of place. The 
English had very strenuously attempted to 
make the region civilized and productive, with 
the result that it is the best of the so-called 
white man's country in Central Africa. Though 
Kenya Colony is located on the equator, such is 
its altitude that the European residents have 
winter sports, skating, tobogganing, and skiing. 
"There is a distinctive kind of native in 
Kenya Colony. In and around Nairobi the 



women shave their heads and pierce and 
distend their ear lobes to almost unbelievable 
limits. When the ears are free of decorations, 
these mutilated lobes hang down in loops, but 
usually pieces of wood or metal jewelry fill the 
spaces. These decorations assume the propor- 
tion of saucers. Under the ear chrysanthemums 
of copper wire, wrapped in bright-colored silk, 
give a color contrast to the dusky complexion. 
Arms and legs are decorated with bracelets and 
anklets of copper wire. Over parts of their 
bodies they wear a single garment of tanned 
skin, of a soft brown color, draped like a Ro- 
man toga. Most of the women carry burdens 
slung on their backs, held in place by a strap 
passed over the foreheads. They stoop as they 
walk. One sees thousands of these bent, shuff- 
ling, barbaric figures. 

"The country east and southeast of Lake 
Victoria is inhabited by the Masia tribe, still 
the most war-like and most feared of all 
African tribes. They are a cattle-owning 
people. They live on cow's milk and cow's 
blood. They consider agricultural work a dis- 
grace. The little flour and other additional 
foods which they require they get by trade. 
Incidentally there is cattle tick and cattle fever 
among their great herds, so there is a quaran- 



tine station on the edge of the Masai country 
to keep their cattle and the consequent con- 
tamination out of Kenya." 

If such is the condition of the country today, 
we may well imagine what it was like eighty 
years ago, when the intrepid missionary began 
his labors in this wilderness of East Africa, 
for his work was largely in the Kenya Colony, 
along the coast, in the Ukamba territory, and 
westward into the mountainous section, of 
which we shall hear more in the next chapter. 
Krapf was ever restless and energetic, enter- 
taining far-reaching plans. He even saw in 
imagination a chain of mission stations across 
the entire continent, thus connecting East and 
West Africa. When Rebmann joined Krapf, 
they decided to establish a mission station at 
Rabbai Mpia, a Wanika village not far from 
the seacoast. In October of the same year they 
had so far finished a house as to allow their 
living in it, and Krapf remarked in a letter: 
"Every true friend of Christ's kingdom must 
rejoice over this mission, for it is the first step 
in the way to the heart of Africa. We have 
secured a position whence the unexplored 
regions of the interior can be reached and the 
ancient bulwarks of Satan assailed by the 
messengers of Christ." 



It was not an easy matter to bring Chris- 
tianity and civilization to the natives of East 
Africa. Though the people seemed keenly alive 
to the material advantage of having Europeans 
among them, they were perfectly indifferent 
to the truths which these men taught. The 
natives were inveterate beggars; the mission 
house constantly looked like a shop filled with 
customers, of whom none, however, had any 
intention to pay. The missionaries quite natur- 
ally felt the difficulty in dealing with the re- 
quests of the people. If they consented to give 
them everything they asked for, the result 
would be an increase in avarice. Besides it 
looked too much like bribing the natives to 
become Christians. On the other hand, if they 
refused every request, it would lead the heathen 
to conclude that, although the white teachers 
spoke a great deal of love and self-denial, they 
themselves did not practice these virtues. 
Krapf was inclined to be liberal in his gifts, 
because he argued that, although the mission- 
ary cannot ordinarily heal the sick and raise the 
dead, he can at least perform deeds of love, 
humility, patience, and self-sacrifice, so that 
the natives would almost be obliged to ask 
themselves: "How is it that the missionary 



submits to so much on our account, and does us 
so much kindness?" 

Like many other missionaries, Krapf in the 
early period of his work thought it necessary 
to spend much time it attacking the false be- 
liefs and superstitious practices of the people. 
As a consequence, the simple presentation of 
Christian truth and the salvation through 
Christ was somewhat pushed into the back- 
ground. With regard to this point he himself 
says : "I have a conviction that for some time 
past I have argued too much against the 
heathen customs and practices of the Wanika, 
for their abominations excited my indignation ; 
but I ought to preach to them more of the love 
of Jesus for the lost and erring slaves of Satan. 
I must pity them more and speak to them more 
pitifully, and sympathizingly." When the first 
convert was made, this served as an encourage- 
ment, for the poor cripple gave evidence that 
the Christian truth was a real power in his 
life. And what is more, the poor cripple was 
the means of bringing to the missionaries an- 
other native, who eventually became a true 
Christian worker among his countrymen. 

Krapf was not the man to rest long in one 
station and to be contented with a gradual 
building up of one congregation. He had 



ambitious plans for the extension of mission 
work in Africa, and he attempted several times 
to penetrate farther into the interior. He 
visited Usambara, to the southwest, in 1848, and 
the land of the Wakamba the following year. 
In both places he received a friendly welcome 
from the chiefs and the natives, and everything 
seemed favorable for the extension of mission 

When twelve years of labor in Africa had 
passed away, broken by occasional trips to 
Europe, Krapf thought the time was come to 
make a longer visit in the home country, partly 
for rest and change, and partly to arouse a 
greater interest in African missions. During 
his stay in Europe, he secured the promise of 
three further missionaries and three artisans 
to strengthen the African mission station. With 
the missionaries he hoped eventually to place 
two stations farther into the interior, and by 
the aid of the artisans he intended to carry 
out a plan which he had long had in mind, the 
establishment of a Christian colony. When he 
left Europe, the outlook for mission work in 
East Africa was at its brightest. With him 
were two missionaries, Pfefferle and Dihlmann, 
together with three mechanics. But on reaching 
Aden, Dihlmann who had scruples about con- 


necting himself with the Church Missionary 
Society, remained at Aden. The next blow 
came when the little company of men arrived 
at Rabbai, for Rebmann and Erhardt, who had 
previously fully agreed to Krapf's plans, were 
found to be opposed to further extension, with- 
out first laying a firm base of operations on the 
coast. In theory they were undoubtedly right, 
but Krapf thought that a disinclination to meet 
dangers and hardships was the chief factor in 
their opposition to his forward movement. 
There also grew up an unbrotherly estrange- 
ment between Rebmann and Erhardt on the 
one side, and the three mechanics, on the other, 
resulting in much trouble to Krapf, who found 
it a difficult task to deal with both parties. It 
was not long before the three artisans, together 
with Pfefferle were stricken with fever; of 
which the latter died after an illness of a few 
weeks ; thus trouble upon trouble seemed to fall 
on the head of Krapf. Yet he wrote to Dr. 
Barth in June, 1851, the following noble, even 
prophetic words : "And now let me look back- 
ward and forward. In the past what do I see? 
Scarcely more than the remnant of a defeated 
army. You know I had the task of strength- 
ening the East African Mission with three 
missionaries and three handicraftsmen; but 



where are the missionaries? One remained in 
London, as he did not consider himself ap- 
pointed to East Africa ; the second remained at 
Aden, in doubt about the English Church; the 
third, Pfefferle, died on May 10th of nervous 
fever, into which the country fever had devel- 
oped. As to the mechanics, they are ill of fever, 
lying between life and death, and instead of 
being a help to me and to Brothers Rebmann 
and Erhardt, look to us for help and attention ; 
and yet I stand by my assertion that Africa 
must be conquered by missionaries ; there must 
be a chain of mission stations between the east 
and west, though thousands of the combatants 
fall upon the left hand and ten thousand on the 
right. . . . From the sanctuary of God a 
voice says to me, "Fear not ; life comes through 
death, resurrection through decay, the establish- 
ment of Christ's kingdom through the dis- 
comfiture of human undertakings. Instead of 
allowing yourself to be discouraged at the de- 
feat of your force, go to work yourself. Do not 
rely on human help, but on the living God, to 
whom it is all the same to save by little or 
much. Do what you can in the strength of God, 
and leave the result in His hands. Believe, 
love, fight, be not weary for His name's sake, 
and you will see the glory of God.' 



"Now when I heard this voice I could ac- 
company my departed brother to the grave in 
the conviction that in spite of this the Lord's 
work in Africa must and will advance. . . . 
It does not matter if I fail entirely ; the Lord is 
King, and will carry out His purpose in His 
own time." 

Soon after the death of his assistant Krapf 
made a journey to Ukambani, about 100 miles 
from Rabbai, to establish a further station; 
but the journey ended in disaster. While he 
was travelling in company with a friendly chief, 
a superior force attacked the chief's party. The 
chief himself was slain, his followers scattered, 
and the missionary found himself abandoned 
by friend and foe. There was nothing left for 
him to do but to retrace his steps, and after 
much suffering from hunger and thirst, he at 
last reached one of the villages of the Wakamba 
in the state of complete exhaustion. He sus- 
pected that the villagers had designs upon his 
life, and so he stole away at night to travel to 
Yata, but the difficulties of the way, in which 
he advanced only six miles in three nights, 
determined him to return to the Wakamba 
village and to surrender to the natives. "Kill 
me if you will," he said, "but you must take 
the consequences." On the other hand, if they 


allowed him to live in peace, he promised to 
give them a portion of the property he had left 
behind at Yata. To this they agreed, and, 
after Krapf had reached Yata and made good 
his promise, he returned to the coast with some 
men of the Wanika tribe, arriving at Rabbai 
after nine days' travelling, to the great joy of 
his fellow-laborers, to whom reports of his 
death had been brought. The following year he 
paid another visit to Usambara, but, war hav- 
ing broken out, he was compelled to return with- 
out accomplishing anything toward the estab- 
lishment of a mission. 

Since his health now made another visit to 
Europe necessary, Krapf left Africa in 1853 
for his native land. At this time he also visited 
England, bringing to the committee of the 
Church Missionary Society glowing accounts 
of the lands through which he had travelled, 
and telling of the need of missionary work and 
of its possibilities. He declared that, while 
the East coast was unhealthy, the plateau coun- 
try father to the west had a delightful climate, 
and the tribes were friendly. He urged that 
the work of the mission should be extended 
further afield. 

In the same year Krapf, on his way to East 



Africa, visited Jerusalem to confer with Samuel 
Gobat, who was now the Anglican bishop in 
that city. When these two men, during their 
conversation, got out their maps of Africa, 
and when Krapf gave the older man some 
account of his experiences among the Abys- 
sinians, Gobat, who was very well acquainted 
with Abyssinia himself, made the remark, 
"Why not link up Jerusalem with Gondar and 
build a road of mission stations named after 
the apostles ?" So it was planned, and so it was 
done, this being the beginning of the under- 
taking which resulted in the "Apostle Street" 
to Abyssinia. This is what Krapf himself said 
about the plan : 

"I have been appointed the secretary of a special 
committee connected with the missionary institution at 
Chrischona, for the purpose of locating twelve mission 
stations along the banks of the Nile, from Alexandria 
to Gondar, the capital of Abyssinia, whence other sta- 
tions will be established towards the South-East and 
West of Africa, as it shall please Providence to show 
the way and point out the requisite men. This line of 
twelve stations will be termed 'The Apostle Street,' as 
each station will be fifty leagues distant from each 
other, and will be called by the name of an Apostle. 
For instance, the station at Alexandria will be named 
after St. Matthew, the station at Cairo St. Mark, at 
Assuan St. Luke." 



In accordance with the plan thus made, the 
institute of St. Chrischona sent out numbers of 
men, and it was not long before some eight to 
ten stations were actually established, namely 
at Alexandria, at Cairo, at Assiut (Asyut), at 
Luxor, at Berber, at Khartum (Khartoum), 
and at Beni Shongul, close to the border of the 
Abyssinian mountains. But Krapf's plan went 
even farther than this, for he intended to link 
up this chain of mission stations with a second 
chain extending from Mombasa to the Niger 
River in West Africa. This was to be the great 
cross of mission stations, and Krapf had cor- 
rectly concluded that such a chain of stations 
would be necessary if the Christian mission- 
aries were to hold back the progress of the 
Mohammedan invasion. The wisdom of Krapf's 
plan has become increasingly evident, and it is 
a fortunate thing that the stations of the var- 
ious missions are now found from Kenya and 
Uganda on the east to Belgian Congo and 
French Equatorial Africa on the west, extend- 
ing even to the Gold Coast, to Sierra Leone, and 
to Senegal. 

When Krapf left Palestine, he set out for 
East Africa, taking Abyssinia on his way. His 
purpose was by an interview with the king to 
revive the mission in that country. A new 



companion had joined Krapf in his journeys, 
namely Martin Flad of the St. Chrischona In- 
stitute. When these two men journeyed across 
the desert that lies between the Nile and Abys- 
sinia, under the hot tropical sun, mounted on 
their camels, with their Arabs singing by their 
side, Flad would call out from time to time, 
"Say, Krapf, see yonder that convenient bush !" 
They would slip down from the backs of their 
camels, and while the caravan journeyed on- 
wards, they would kneel and pour out their 
hearts in prayer to God that the good news of 
the Savior might before long be carried to the 
many peoples in the heart of Africa who had 
never heard of Him. 

In Krapf's writings on Abyssinia, the fol- 
lowing notes are among the most interesting. 

"Jan hoi! Jan hoi! (0 King! O King!) is the call 
with which the natives of Abyssinia approach their 
ruler. It was this title (Jan hoi) which in the 15th 
Century, when the Portuguese first came- to Western 
Africa, led to the report of the great king Prester 
John (Jan) ruling in East Africa." 

The quaint ideas of the Abyssinian priests 
and their interpretations of Scripture are 
exemplified in these quotations: 

"Alaca Wolda Hann gave me some proofs of their 
skill in explaining Scripture. 'The foxes have holes 



and the birds of the air have nests' (Matt. 8, 20) he 
explained. 'Those foxes are kings and governors who 
seek earthly things, but the birds are the priests and 
bishops who fly to heaven in their prayers and holy 

"Furthermore (Matthew 5, 29) 'If thy right eye,' 
etc. Of this he said, 'The eye is the wife, the hand the 
servant and the right eye the child.' When I told him 
the way in which we explained this passage he replied, 
'That is one sense. We are fond of many senses of 
Scripture.' I then showed him the foolish and bad 
consequences of their explaining the Word of God, and 
that God would become displeased with them if they sub- 
stituted two or more senses, just as the King of Shoa 
would become angry if his people were to give some 
other meaning to his orders. 

"No Christian people upon earth are so rigid in 
their fastings as the Abyssinians. They fast in all 
nine months out of twelve every Friday and Wed- 
nesday throughout the year, then again forty days 
before Easter, twenty-five days after Trinity, fourteen 
days in August, twenty-five before Advent, and on 
other occasions. 

"Many of them believe that the Virgin Mary died 
for the sins of the world, and saved 144,000 souls. 
From the Abyssinian point of view the means to ex- 
piate sins are alms-giving, fasting, monastic vows, 
reading sermons, etc. They are extreme monotheists, 
for they admit only one nature and one will in Christ." 

"A great discussion has been going on among the 
church leaders in that country concerning the threefold 
birth of the Son of God: 



"(1st Birth) Begotten of the Father before all 
the Worlds, 

(2nd Birth) Became man in time, 

(3rd Birth) Was baptized in Jordan." 

The attempt to open up Abyssinia at this 
time again resulted in failure, and Krapf, in- 
stead of returning to Egypt by way of the Red 
Sea, chose the road by the Nile Valley. This 
journey so told upon his weak health that, on 
arriving in Egypt, he had to embark for 
Europe. Although he was barely forty-five 
years old, the tropics had so affected his health 
that an immediate return to East Africa was 
not to be thought of. As a matter of fact, 
Krapf now remained in Europe for several 
years, and his later journeys to Africa did not 
keep him there for many years at a time. 






One cannot study the life of Krapf and his 
associates without taking into account the im- 
mense amount of travelling which was done 
by these men under conditions which were far 
from comfortable, and in no way measured up 
to the travelling with conveniences to which 
we have become accustomed. For one thing 
Krapf made many journeys between Europe 
and Africa. In 1848 to 1849 Krapf made his 
third journey to the Dark Continent. It was 
at this time that he became acquainted with 
some of the possibilities of exploration in the 
interior, of which we shall speak at some length 
in this chapter. In 1851 to 1852 Krapf made 
his fourth journey, and this time he extended 
his travels to the Tanganyika country, and also 
to Galaland. In his book on "Travels and 
Missionary Labors in East Africa" he describes 
some of his experiences in the interior. He 
writes: "I was once in great danger of being 
sacrificed because it had not rained for a long 
time, and the absence of rain was ascribed to 



me, as if I could have hindered it from falling, 
and again, with no less haste, I was almost 
deified when, ater a long drought, there was 
a sudden fall of rain. It was ascribed to my 
walking on the soil." Of Krapf's visit to Eng- 
land, in 1854, we have already heard. The 
journey in 1857 was the fifth time that he 
visited East Central Africa. He was there 
twice more, from 1861 to 1865, and then again 
from 1866 to 1868. Thus he was in Africa 
seven separate times, and on the last trip he 
journeyed with the British Expedition from 
Suakim to liberate the missionaries then im- 
prisoned by Thodorus, the Menelik of Abys- 
sinia. His real reason for being in East Africa 
at this time, was because the Methodist Free 
Churches had requested him to accompany 
their missionaries Woolner and Wakefield, to 
Africa, and to assist them in starting a mission. 
He consented, and after seeing Wakefield settled 
at Ribe, the new station, after illness had driven 
Woolner back to Europe, Krapf also went back, 
his health not permitting a long stay. Of the 
new station he remarked: "The station Ribe 
will in due time celebrate the triumph of the 
mission in the conversion of the Wanika, though 
I may be in the grave. The Lord does not allow 
His word to return to Him void, although often 



our own despondent hearts and the unbelieving 
opponents of mission will say, You are laboring 
in vain." We have here one of the unionistic 
utterances which are occasionally found in 
Krapf 's writings. 

When Krapf joined the British Expedition, 
as an interpreter, their object was to reach the 
capital of Abyssinia. As a matter of fact, the 
campaign was successful in its military object. 
But a military expedition to save Christian 
missionaries has never yet done any good. It 
may save the lives of the men concerned, but 
it closes the door to the hearts of the people. 
As a result of this expedition, which Kraft was 
obliged to leave on account of ill health, before 
it had reached its destination, the missionaries 
were withdrawn ; the fanaticism of the Moham- 
medans undermined the work in Egypt, and 
thus, with the main purpose gone in Abyssinia, 
one after another of the stations along the Nile 
was abandoned. Krapf's plan was too arti- 
ficial at that time, and some of his stations have 
not been re-opened to this day. An atlas and a 
map are not sufficient guides for spiritual work, 
just as no spiritual experiences can be bought 
with all the riches in the world. After the 
campaign the ancient country of Prester John 
was closed to foreign missions, and it was many 



years before any advance in this neighborhood 
could again be made, as we shall see in the last 

One of the most interesting features of 
Krapf's labors, as indicated by his extensive 
journeys, was his work as explorer and geog- 
rapher, a work for which he inspired other men 
as well. It was in April, 1848, that Rebmann, 
a faithful associate of Krapf in his work in 
East Africa, started for the distant region of 
Jagga, of which strange rumors had come to 
the ears of the missionaries. To penetrate the 
wilderness at that time meant to leave behind 
even the last vestige of civilized conveniences, 
but the plan of Krapf to explore the interior 
for a chain of mission stations was like a 
driving force in all his work. On May llth, 
when Rebmann was still a day's journey from 
the village of Taveta, he made the following 
simple entry in his diary: "This morning, at 
ten o'clock, we obtained a clearer view of the 
mountains of Jagga, the summit of one of which 
was covered by what looked like a beautiful 
white cloud. When I inquired as to the dazzling 
whiteness, the guide merely called it 'cold,' and 
at once I knew it could be neither more nor less 
than snow. . . . Immediately I understood 
how to interpret the marvellous tales Dr. Krapf 



and I had heard at the coast, of a vast moun- 
tain of gold and silver in the far interior, the 
approach to which was guarded by evil spirits." 

Rebmann was so overcome by the magnif- 
icent view that he fell down on his knees and 
reverently prayed the 14th Psalm. He could 
well understand the superstition of the natives, 
because the peculiar nature of this great pile 
of mountains rendered it practically inacces- 
sible to all but the must hardened mountaineers 
at that time. Few people in the neighborhood 
ever had a sight of the summit itself, because 
for the greater part of the day it is usually 
wrapped in a thick mantle of clouds. As for 
the early morning, when the peak is often 
visible with its cover of snow and ice, the 
natives were afraid to talk about it, for they 
honestly believed that the white color indicated 
silver, and their fear of evil spirit kept them 
away from the volcanic upheaval. 

As Rebmann continued his journey toward 
the territory of Jagga, in which the great 
mountain is located, he says that every time he 
raised his eyes, he saw "the eternal ice and 
snow of Kilimanjaro, apparently but a few 
miles distant, but in reality separated from him 
by about a couple of day's journey." 

"Content for the time being with this dis- 



covery, Rebmann returned to Rabai in June, but 
in November of the same year set out again for 
Jagga. Proceeding through Kilema to Majame, 
he 'came so close to Kilimanjaro' that at night 
the grand old head of the snow-capped moun- 
tain 'could be seen gleaming like silver in the 
bright moonlight,' and he thought that the foot 
of Kibo was 'distant only some three or four 
miles. . . . There are two main peaks/ the 
diary goes on to say, 'which arise from a com- 
mon base measuring some twenty-five miles long 
by as many broad. They are separated by a 
saddle-shaped depression, running east and 
west for a distance of about eight or ten miles. 
The eastern peak is the lower of the two, and is 
conical in shape. The western and higher 
presents the appearance of a magnificent dome, 
and is covered with snow throughout the year, 
unlike its eastern neighbor, which loses its 
snowy mantle during the hot season. ... By 
the Swahili at the coast, the mountain is known 
as Kilimanjaro (Mountain of Greatness), but 
the Wa-Jagga call it Kibo, from the snow with 
which it is perpetually capped/ All Rebmann's 
observations are correct, with the exception of 
his estimate of the extent of the mountain, and 
his interpretation of its name as 'Mountain of 



"Returning to Rabai in February 1849, 
the indefatigable missionary immediately set 
about preparations for a third and yet more 
extended journey 'into the heart of Africa.' 
Despite the approach of the rainy season, April 
saw him once more on the road to Jagga, 'armed 
only with an umbrella,' and accompanied by a 
caravan of thirty porters. Following his old 
route through Kilema and Uru to Majame, he 
reached a point, in his opinion, 'so close to the 
snowline that, supposing no impassable abyss 
to intervene, I could have reached it in three or 
four hours.' Unfortunately, illness and priva- 
tion compelled him to turn back, but the unfin- 
ished work of exploration was taken up by his 
colleague, Dr. Krapf, and in some measure suc- 
cessfully accomplished. 

"In November 1849, Krapf organized an 
expedition to Ukamba, a district lying to the 
northeast of Kilimanjaro, and on the 10th of 
the month obtained from the mountains of 
Maungu 'a magnificent view of the snow-moun- 
tain Kilimanjaro in Jagga, which loomed up 
from behind the ranges of Ndara and Bura. 
. . . Even at this distance I could make out 
that the white substance crowing the summit 
was certainly snow.' On three other occasions, 
in the course of this journey, Krapf had an 



opportunity of assuring himself of the reality 
of the snow-cap, his testimony thus placing the 
accuracy of Rebmann's reports beyond a doubt. 
The altitude was estimated at 12,500 feet." 

The immediate results of these explora- 
tions were rather interesting. Since mountains 
always have a great attraction for people who 
have been brought up among them, Krapf's 
stories about the Switzerland of Africa and the 
snowy peaks at the equator created a great 
sensation when he was home in Switzerland in 
1850. Not only was the institute at Basel very 
much interested in the new country, but the 
branch school which had been established at 
St. Chrischona, not far from Basel, as a train- 
ing school for home evangelists, caught the 
enthusiasm, and young men began to volunteer 
from that institution to go out as missionaries 
to Africa. The fame of the explorers spread 
far and wide, causing the eyes of hundreds of 
men to be turned to Africa. 

When Krapf visited Africa again, he took 
occasion to extend his trips, also into Ukamba, 
where Mount Kenya is situated, and into the 
country about Lake Victoria. Although he does 
not seem to have reached the country south of 
Lake Albert, where Stanley later discovered the 



magnificant Mount Ruwenzari (16,794 feet), 
with its perpetual mantle of snow, he came into 
direct contact with all the country in the neigh- 
borhood. Sir Harry Johnston says of Krapf 
and Rebmann: "They had gathered up the 
reports of Lake Nyassa, Tanganyika, and the 
Victoria Nyanza, and had imagined these 
separate sheets of water to be only parts of a 
huge slugshaped lake as big as the Caspian Sea. 
These stories they illustrated by a map pub- 
lished in 1855. Their story of snow mountains 
in equatorial Africa only drew on them for the 
most part the ridicule of English geographers, 
among whom was a wearisome person, Mr. Des- 
borough Cooley, who published fine-spun theo- 
ries based on a fantastic interpretation of 
African etymology; but their stories were 
believed in France, and they were awarded a 
medal by the Paris Geographical Society. . . . 
These stories from the missionaries revived the 
interest in Ptolemy's geography. The Nile 
lakes were once more believed in, especially as 
the discovery of Kenya and Kilimanjaro ap- 
peared to confirm the stories of the Mountains 
of the Moon. This idea indeed was additionally 
favored by the fact that the missionaries often 
referred to their hypothetical lake as the Sea 
of Unyamwezi, which name they explained as 



meaning (we know not why) the 'Land of the 

Although some of the information gained 
by Krapf was not complete, the opposition of 
Cooly was, in the course of time, exhibited as 
thoroughly ridiculous, for since 1860 one ex- 
plorer after the other has gone out to East 
Africa, and their accounts have fully confirmed 
every really important statement in the early 
reports of Krapf. The great mountain Kili- 
manjaro is really a cluster of mountains, the 
highest peaks of which are Mawenzi, in the 
east (16,270 feet), and Kibo, in the west 
(19,320 feet), with a wide saddle connecting 
the two summits. Men like Von der Decken, 
New, Thomson, Johnston, Meyer, Speke, Grant, 
Sir Samuel Baker, MacQueen and others have 
thoroughly explored the entire neighborhood of 
the mighty region, and a number of men have 
reached the top of the highest peak in Africa. 
According to their description, we are dealing 
with a most stupendous region of Mountains. 
In a description of an ascent which came with- 
in several hundred feet of reaching the highest 
point, Hans Meyer has the following para- 

"We continued our way upwards along 
ridges of weathered lava and obsidian, display- 


ing all the colors of the rainbow in marvel- 
lously beautiful combinations. Slowly but 
surely we approached the ice-cap, and at last, 
at half -past seven, arrived at its lower limit at 
an altitude of 18,910 feet. Immediately above 
us was the great notch on the eastern side of the 
crater ; to the left, 600 or 700 feet below, was the 
wall of ice which had effectually barred my 
progress in my former attempt to reach the 
summit from this side. To the right the ice 
extended in an unbroken line towards the north, 
presenting a slightly overhanging series of 
massive cliffs of nearly uniform height. 

Pausing only to get our ice-tackle in order, 
we commenced the ascent of the ice-cap, which 
at first proved so slippery and so steep that 
once more we are obliged to have recourse to 
the tedious process of hewing steps. About ten 
minutes of this work brought us to the notch, 
whence, from a different standpoint, we again 
had a full view of the crater. Here projecting 
points and bosses of rock were visible through 
the ice, and everything seemed to promise such 
easy progress that Purtscheller gave it as his 
opinion we should reach the cone at the bottom 
in an hour, and be back in camp by midday. 
A little experience of the nieve penitente sur- 
face of the ice ahead soon caused us to modify 



our sanguine expectations, and presently we 
were beset by a series of obstacles which suf- 
ficiently proved the wisdom of the pithy adage 
which forbids the counting of chickens before 
they are hatched. 

"The ice-sheet stretched in a compact mass 
to the foot of the small central cone below, and 
its surface was tremendously weathered by sun 
and wind. Without wasting much time in re- 
flection, we plunged into our difficulties forth- 
with, and soon became involved in a chaos of 
ruts and rents and jagged points, amid which 
it was next to impossible to find a footing. 
Often, when we thought we had succeeded in 
doing so, the brittle crust gave way beneath 
us, and we found ourselves up to the armpits, 
struggling to extricate ourselves from the jaws 
of a crevasse. Needless to say, our hands were 
soon bruised and bleeding, and, in spite of warm 
gloves, our fingers were perfectly benumbed." 

In a description taken from the diary of 
Mr. MacQueen, who made a trip of exploration 
into this section from 1908 to 1909, we find the 
following paragraphs. 

"Between five and six last night the clouds 
parted, the mist drifted down into the valley 
and Kilimanjaro, the grandest peak in a whole 
continent, showed its white forehead. From our 



cots in the tent we could see this glowing 
wonder of eternal snow amid the eternal green. 
On the west gleamed the waning sun in a bed 
of old rose and amber, amid the scarred rocks of 
Mount Meru, eight miles away. To the east 
the piled-up clouds were below us. At one place 
they were like castles in the air ; at another like 
cities of jasper amid walls of gold; ending in 
one high mountain peak which leaned close 
against the Southern Cross and seemed to be 
the throne of God Himself. Then slowly, softly, 
faded the pink and amber and chrysoprase, and 
the light left hill and forest and cloud and far 
off fortifications and missions of the white man ; 
and the sky paled and then became aglow with 
the splendor of the moonlight, and all around 
was darkness over the land except where the 
proud Kilimanjaro on her silver throne shone 
silent and alone, the queen of all the Afric land. 
"We retired about 7 o'clock and were well 
wrapped, but we shivered all night, having come 
from 86 to 22 in two days. I was clothed 
thus : four pairs of socks, one pair of trousers, 
one pair of puttee leggings, one jersey- woolen, 
one woolen blue shirt, one negligee shirt, a suit 
of underwear, a khaki coat, a mackintosh, a 
skating cap and two blankets, and yet I was 



'acold.' Shall put on a pair of boots up to my 
knees tonight. 

"We shall probably make the final attempt 
to reach the summit tomorrow. The height of 
Kibo is nearly twenty thousand feet. There is 
a ridge running from Mwenzi Mountain to 
Kibo. The saddle is sixteen thousand feet. 
Mwenzi and Kibo are the twin peaks that form 
the Kilimanjaro. We will get our guides up to 
the saddle and leave the rest of the men here. 
We hope by moonlight to walk all night and 
reach a point near the top of Kibo by daylight." 

Just as interesting, in a way, as the descrip- 
tion of Kilimanjaro, which is given in Mac- 
Queen's book from his own diary, is the de- 
scription of the Kenya district, as quoted by the 
same author from the diary of his companion 
on the trip. We quote from the entries of two 

"December 5th : Scene at sunrise in a Masai 
zareba at the foot of Mount Kenya. The zareba 
is built of thorny shrubs to protect the cattle 
from lions, leopards, hyenas, and other carniv- 
orous beasts. The Masai live in these flat 
roofed dwellings built of tree branches and then 
plastered over with mud mixed with dry grass 
and cows' dung. There is only one opening to 
go in, and a perfect darkness reigns inside to 



keep out the millions of flies that swarm in 
every Masai zareba. .Here one may say that 
cattle, sheep, goats, a few dogs, and human 
beings live together like one big family, display- 
ing a good deal of affection for one another. 
At sun down, from all points of the compass, 
men with their herds and flocks return from 
pasture and fill the zareba as compact as sar- 
dines in a tin. 

"December 7th : Placed camp at the lower 
timber line at the West side of Mount Kenya, 
whence numerous streams flow to the plains, 
feeding the great river Guaso Nyiro, which 
empties itself into the Indian Ocean. Took a 
picture, as the sun rose, of the snow-clad peak ; 
for later in the day this virgin forest is con- 
stantly hidden by clouds. Elephants, rhinoc- 
eroses, wild buffalos, bush-bucks, colobus mon- 
keys, leopards, and several species of birds live 
in this jungle. The men of the plains dread it, 
thinking that the forest is infested with evil 
spirits. Being nine thousand feet above the 
sea the cold at night and the torrential rains 
keep the superstitious aborigines out of it. 

"Just as the sun rises the Masai shepherds 
let their herds of cattle, goats, and sheep walk 
out of the zareba into the open plain to bask 
themselves in the warm sun after the chills in 



the night, for night is rather cold on these 
highlands of East Africa. All the men, women 
and children sun themselves too. About 7:30 
A. M. the herds move on to feed in the plains 
while women folk go to the zareba for their 
daily routine of work. This plain is situated 
to the southwest of Mount Kenya and is within 
fifteen miles of the lower timber line, the home 
of the El-Moran (Masai warriors)." 

And as for Uganda, the reader will get a 
very good idea of the situation in this wonder- 
ful section of Africa from a description given 
by Mr. MacQueen in his recent book entitled 
"In Wildest Africa." We read there as follows. 

"The islanders raise crops of bananas, 
beans, potatoes, wild coffee, maize and tobacco, 
and many fowls. There are no carnivorous 
pests, and the hippopotamus and crocodile are 
the only dangerous beasts. The Basesse go 
decently dressed, even the women wearing 
ample robes of bark cloth, which, however, 
generally leave the bust and shoulders un- 

"The scenery among the Sesse Islands is 
remarkably beautiful when viewed from the 
steamer's deck and, when seen from an em- 
inence like Mount Bagola, presents a vista of 



blue water, reflecting bold headlands, shaded 
creeks and lagoons and wooded islets, stretch- 
ing away in almost limitless variety to the 
horizon and gradually softened and attenuated 
by the glories of dawn, the splendors of the 
setting sun or the soft haze which, even in the 
hottest tropical day, gives a magical charm to 
distant scenery. 

"The people of Uganda as a rule seem to 
live very happily. They are always laughing 
and smiling, and the men and women go about 
hand in hand. They have good homes; they 
live in villages where every hut has its garden, 
growing bananas, sweet potatoes, and other 

"The houses are of different sizes. Those 
of the chiefs are quite large and are elaborately 
made. Those of the ordinary people are made 
of reeds with thatched roofs, the latter being 
upheld by poles. Even the poorest house has 
two apartments, one to the front and the other 
at the rear. The rear apartment has bunks 
around the wall upon which the people sleep. 

"Such huts have but little furniture : two or 
three stools, a half dozen earthenware pots, 
and some wicker or grass basins constitute a 
complete outfit. 



"As to food, the chief staple is the banana. 
There are many varieties of these in Uganda, 
and they are more important to that country 
than wheat and corn are to ours. The banana, 
which serves as the chief food, is much longer 
than any that come into our markets. It is a 
sort of plantain. It is sometimes made into 
pembe, a delicious cider. It is eaten green, the 
fruit being first peeled and then cooked with 
a little water in an earthenware pot. After it 
steams some time the flesh softens and soon 
becomes a solid mass of mush. When done it is 
taken off the fire and turned out upon some 
fresh banana leaves. These serve as a table- 

"The family now gathers around and gets 
ready for the meal. Each first washes his 
hands and gives them a shake to get off the 
superfluous water. The father then takes a 
knife and divides the pile of banana pulp into 
as many divisions as there are members at the 
board. In the meantime a bowl of soup or fish 
gravy has been placed inside the ring. This is 
used in common. 

"In the fields grow Indian corn, peas, and 
sweet potatoes. Chickens, sheep, and goats are 
raised. The people do not seem fond of eggs, 
and the women are not allowed to eat them 



after they are married. They are not permitted 
to eat chicken or mutton, such viands being 
reserved for the men of the family. They may, 
however, eat beef or veal. The eating of 
chickens is supposed to render the women bar- 
ren. The Baganda, however, are beginning to 
laugh at such superstition and everybody will 
soon be eating chickens. 

"The Baganda also have fish from Lake 
Victoria and from their numerous streams. 
They eat locusts, and are especially fond of 
white ants. The ants are caught by smoking 
their hills about night-fall and trapping them aj3 
they come out. They are eaten both raw and 

"Now in Uganda the farmers are growing 
sugar cane. They are growing tomatoes and a 
green vegetable much like spinach. I saw little 
fields of tobacco here and there. The soil is as 
red as that of Cuba, and the plants grow with- 
out much cultivation. The tobacco is used for 
smoking, and is consumed by both men and 
women. They gather coffee from the wild trees 
and chew the pulp, but so far have not learned 
to use it as a drink." 

Thus was Krapf vindicated in the accounts 
of his exploration. And he it was who opened 
up East Africa, in the districts of which we 



have read short descriptions, to Christian mis- 
sions, so that the Gospel is slowly but surely 
marching onward through the wilderness, and 
the authorities are recognizing its value in in- 
creasing measure, as a real factor in the de- 
velopment of the country. But in all this our 
chief interest lies in the fact that the Gospel of 
salvation is made known to these descendants 
of cannibals, and Christian congregations are 
replacing the bands of marauders and mur- 
derers which formerly infested this entire 
section of Africa. 






Many a man's success in life is due as much 
to the influence of his associates as to his own 
personal efforts. On the other hand, the man- 
ner in which a person chooses his associates 
often indicates a large amount of careful char- 
acter study, for so much depends upon har- 
monious working together. If a relationship is 
continually hampered by friction and misunder- 
standings, the chances are that such a com- 
panionship will not be able to produce a great 
amount of good. The truth of these statements 
is generally accepted in business circles. It 
would obviously be foolish for the manager of 
a large firm to choose as his associates men with 
whom he felt himself out of sympathy, with 
whom he could not possibly agree. At the same 
time, one can very well conceive of a partner- 
ship or a corporation in which talents of various 
kinds, showing themselves in various directions, 
would work together under one leader or 

All this applies also, with the proper reser- 
vations, with regard to the work of the Church, 



whether at home or abroad. The Bible says 
that the gifts of the Spirit are bestowed upon 
every Christian to profit withal. One worker 
in the field may have unusual administrative 
ability, another may have the faculty of attend- 
ing to small details with the greatest success, 
a third may have a special talent for expound- 
ing the Scriptures in a clear and practical way, 
and thus the various talents and faculties of 
the Christians, as bestowed upon them by the 
Spirit of God, are put to use in the Church. To 
a certain extent these facts are even more 
prominent in the mission work of the Church. 
When men and women are far away from the 
home base working among people of a different 
race, and very often with an inferior state of 
education and culture, they will naturally seek 
the companionship of men and women of their 
own race, in fact, they will be dependent to a 
large extent on such companionship. It is at 
such a time that it becomes necessary for Chris- 
tian workers to subordinate every personal 
consideration to the needs of the work as they 
present themselves. Those who hold associate 
positions ought to recognize without question 
the authority of such as hold executive offices, 
and the latter, in turn, ought to appreciate the 
talents of their associates, realizing that the 



various members of a body must work together 
in the interest of the souls that are to be gained. 
If personal animosities are once permitted to 
gain the upper hand, the chances are that the 
work will soon suffer. Not only will the per- 
sonal Christianity of the workers themselves be 
in danger of becoming lost, but the people 
among whom the work has been undertaken 
will readily sense a state of dissension and will 
become suspicious of the message brought by 
people of this character. 

In the biography of Krapf it is notable that 
he appreciated his associates very much and 
that, considering the wide difference in talents, 
he worked together with them in splendid 
harmony. Even when some of the later mis- 
sionaries were found to be opposed to the plans 
as conceived in the first place, Krapf did not 
permit such a difference of opinion to interfere 
with the preaching of the Gospel. Wherever 
he could do this without surrendering a prin- 
ciple, he yielded to others. To this fact, in a 
large measure, the success of his undertakings 
must be attributed. 

The foundation for this method of work had 
been laid even before Krapf left Europe. When 
he was associated with Blumhardt at Basel, the 
older man showed a wonderful amount of tact 



in directing the energy of his young associate. 
Even if we discount the somewhat peculiar 
pietistic trend of the school, we must admit the 
eminently practical side of the training along 
these lines. Krapf and Blumhardt spent a great 
deal of time together between 1827 and 1837, 
and the younger man received impressions 
during this association which directed his later 
efforts in a large measure. 

Nor may we overlook the influence of Isen- 
berg, another man from the institute at Basel. 
He had entered the school in 1824, apparently 
intending to get as much information as pos- 
sible, without considering the practical side of 
the school. Somewhat later he studied in Ber- 
lin, returning to Basel in 1830 as a teacher of 
Greek, a language which was studied in the 
institute on account of its importance for the 
understanding of the New Testament. Before 
the end of this year he was induced to go to 
England, and from there he was sent, in 1833, 
to Abyssinia. When Krapf joined him, in 1838, 
the two men worked together very well until 
the great difficulties in the mission began, when 
the jealousy of the priests caused the mission- 
aries to leave Adoa. When Isenberg, a few 
years later, tried to reach Gondar, he was again 
in full accord with the plans of Krapf, for it 



was he, together with Muehleisen, who made 
an appeal to the prince of the country, and it 
was he who informed Krapf and his wife that 
the prince of Tigre would not permit the 
European missionaries to labor in his territory. 
Isenberg then returned to Egypt, in the year 
1843, from where he was sent to Bombay, in 
India. Here he did mission work till 1852. 
During this entire time his interest in the 
missions of Abyssinia and East Africa did not 
lag. As early as 1840, upon the occasion of a 
visit in London, he had published some books 
in the Amharic language, his object being to 
stimulate interest in the work in Ethiopia. 
When he returned from Bombay, in 1852, he 
settled near Basel, devoting his time to the 
training of the mechanics who where to leave 
for the foreign field, so that they might .be 
familiar with the fundamentals of the Amharic 
language. After 1854, he labored for approx- 
imately another ten years in Bombay. 

Another man who is important in the mis- 
sionary history of Abyssinia and came into 
touch with Krapf upon various . occasions, is 
Samuel Gobat. He was fully eleven years older 
than Krapf, and he entered the institute at 
Basel as early as 1821. After completing the 
course in missions, he went to Paris, in order 



to study the Arabic language under one of the 
most learned men of the day. When his train- 
ing was finished, he went to England, where he 
was commissioned as the first Evangelical mis- 
sionary in Abyssinia. Like Krapf, he had long 
taken a particular interest in this country, hav- 
ing studied the stories of missions as under- 
taken by the Jesuits in the sixteenth century. 
He started out from Europe in 1826. When he 
reached Cairo, circumstances compelled him to 
remain in Egypt for about three years. This 
delay, at first very provoking, proved to be a 
blessing in disguise, for Gobat had an opportun- 
ity to study the Orient, and especially the Near 
East, at first hand. When he reached the 
province of Tigre in Abyssinia, in the year 
1829, he was received in a very pleasant manner 
by the prince, Saba Gadis. Settling in Gondar, 
he began his missionary labors, soon developing 
a most blessed activity. Apparently the Coptic 
priests were at this time not yet aware of the 
influence which Gobat's labors might have upon 
their people, and therefore they did not inter- 
fere with his work. Gobat held many meetings 
in his own house, which was often filled from 
morning till evening with people who were 
eager to learn the truth. His object was to 
cause a reformation of the Coptic Church, with 



the movement coming from within. But his 
hopes were not fulfilled, as the story of Krapf 's 
life shows us. Still the spirit of love which 
filled his heart, the unselfishness which he ex- 
hibited in dealing with the Abyssinians, and the 
entire example of his character proved to be an 
inspiration for all later workers, and it gave 
his name a popularity in many sections of Abys- 
sinia, which had not waned after several 
decades. In 1832, the tribe of the Gallas in- 
vaded the province of Tigre, so that Gobat was 
compelled to flee to a monastery in the hills. 
But the year 1836 once more found him busy 
with his work in Abyssinia, with his wife as 
a true helpmeet. Unfortunately he was unable 
to endure the rigors of the climate, and there- 
fore had to leave the country shortly before 
Krapf was sent down from England. But even 
now he was not idle. As soon as his health 
permitted work, he devoted his time to the 
spread of the Scriptures, finally even taking up 
his residence among the Druses on Mount 
Lebanon. From here he was called to Jerusa- 
lem, as bishop of the Church of St. James. 
From 1846 to his death in 1879, he was bishop 
of Jerusalem, but his interest in the mission 
work of Abyssinia and East Africa remained 
unchanged, so that Krapf, upon the occasion 



of his visit to Jerusalem in 1854, had the in- 
spiration of his suggestions and the example of 
his successes to spur him on. The grave of 
Gobat is under an olive tree on Mount Zion. 

The name of Martin Flad is associated with 
that of Krapf on account of the attempt which 
was made to open up the mission in Abyssinia 
shortly after the middle of the 19th century. 
He was a student trained at St. Chrischona, and 
he was inspired by the work of Krapf. After 
his training was completed, he was sent to 
Abyssinia, and he had the very delightful ex- 
perience of travelling from the Nile, through 
the desert and up to the highlands of Ethiopia, 
in the company of Krapf. Flad was a very 
devout man and, although his effort at the time 
also proved unsuccessful, the light which was 
kindled in his soul by his contact with the work 
never left him. 

But the name which is most often associated 
with Krapf 's is that of Rebmann, who was sent 
out to join Krapf in East Africa in 1846. He 
also was a native of Wurttemberg and had been 
trained at Basel. When Krapf reported that 
a door had been opened to him among the 
Wanika near Zanzibar, Rebmann became his 
helper. In one respect he was the very opposite 
of Krapf, who was ten years older than Reb- 



mann. While the older man was restless and 
energetic, with wonderful plans for the future, 
Rebmann was of a quiet disposition, but with 
a great tenacity of purpose. In spite of the 
great dissimilarity in their natures, the two 
men were at once drawn to each other, and 
Krapf, after two years of lone work, appre- 
ciated the presence and help of a fellow-laborer 
very highly. Whenever Rebman accomplished 
an unusually bit of fine work, Krapf was only 
too glad to give him the full credit for his 
achievement. Rebmann was particularly in- 
terested in the establishment of schools, but 
although he made some very strong attempts, 
his success along this line was not very great. 
It was for this reason that Rebmann consented 
in a measure to the plans of Krapf, also in 
making the trip to Jagga in 1848, on which he 
first saw the snow-covered summit of Mount 
Kilimanjaro. When Krapf was compelled to 
leave East Africa on account of his health, Reb- 
mann remained in the country, even though the 
success of his labors was not very great. When- 
ever the natives were at war, he was compelled 
to flee. But just as soon as peace once more 
settled in the country, he returned to his sta- 
tion. When the outward success of his mission 
work was not in keeping with the labor ex- 



pended, he devoted himself with all the greater 
energy to the study of the languages of this 
part of Africa. He also translated a part of 
the Bible into various languages and dialects, 
beside publishing dictionaries of the language 
which he had studied. As time went on, he 
finally had the pleasure of gathering a small 
congregation and of kindling the fire of spir- 
itual life all along the coast. But he had the 
misfortune of becoming totally blind, a fact 
which made it necessary for him to resign his 
charge. He returned to Germany in 1875, and 
died the following year in the village of Korn- 
thal near Stuttgart. 

Thus was the work established in East 
Africa, and one might very well apply to the 
labors of Krapf and his associates the words 
which Livingstone sent out into the world when 
,his career came to an end. His great mission- 
ary admonition read : "Do you carry on !" That 
is the great duty which the Church has, that is 
the great challenge which comes to the Church, 
namely to continue the work of spreading the 
Gospel. Every unconverted soul in foreign 
countries is a challenge to us to work while it 
is day, because the night cometh when no man 
can work. 





Krapf had worked in Africa quite steadily 
from 1838 to 1855. Subsequently, as we have 
found, he was in East Africa from 1861 to 1865, 
and then from 1866 to 1868. He would have 
stayed longer in each case, but his health had 
been undermined, and so he found it necessary 
to return to Europe in each case, lest he sacrifice 
himself needlessly. But this does not imply 
that Krapf was idle during that portion of the 
last twenty-six years of his life that he spent 
in Europe. His interest in the work of missions 
was not reduced for a moment. Besides, his 
evident ability in studying languages was a 
talent that could not lie idle. Since he had 
gained the knowledge of African languages and 
dialects, he felt constrained to use this talent 
in the interest of the work. He made his home 
at Kornthal, near Stuttgart, and there he pro- 
ceeded with his literary labors with only such 
interruptions as have been indicated above. 

Literary labors of this kind, while exceed- 
ingly interesting, are by no means to be re- 
garded as play. The longer a scholar is in the 



work, the more careful and cautious does he 
become. In the case of Krapf, his natural 
energy and eagerness gave him a stimulus 
which carried him well through the drudg- 
ery of these labors. This meant that he often 
had to make short trips to the libraries at 
Tuebingen and at Stuttgart. One can often 
not wait to have certain references verified. It 
is best to go in person and to look up things for 
oneself. Thus many an interesting hour was 
spent in examining records of all kinds, in 
making comparisons, in verifying references. 
All this material must then be assimilated, 
analyzed for special purposes, brought into 
order, and prepared for the press. Conve- 
niences like typewriters were not to be found 
in Krapf's study, and he was glad when he 
could have the assistance of some young men 
who would relieve him of mechanical details. 
To this must be added the work connected 
with a large correspondence. Krapf was not 
a man to withdraw from others. He needed the 
stimulus which comes to an active man by con- 
tact with minds having similar interests. He 
was regarded highly in the world of letters by 
men not only on the continent, but also in Eng- 
land and in the Orient. His name was men- 
tioned with respect in Tuebingen, in Stuttgart, 


in Berlin, in London, in Jerusalem, and in 
Cairo. He had a large correspondence, and this 
he attended to in person. He needed informa- 
tion on many points connected with the Oriental 
language ; other scholars applied to him for in- 
formation along similar lines. Besides, his 
direct interest in missions and his connection 
with the field in East Africa caused many let- 
ters to be written. When the controversies 
concerning his geographical discoveries and 
explorations grew strong, he could not remain 
silent. When his great work appeared, in two 
volumes (1858) entitled "Travels in East 
Africa," it caused the greatest excitement. As 
we have seen, the English geographer Cooley 
tried to ridicule the entire description, insisting 
that Rebmann and Krapf were gifted with a 
strong imagination. He boldly asserted that 
ice and snow could not be found in the neigh- 
borhood of the equator, even on mountains of 
that height. All these facts caused Krapf much 
extra correspondence. 

His correspondence with learned societies 
also grew with the years. He was a linguist, 
he was a missionary, and he was an explorer. 
In France his discoveries were regarded so 
highly that he and his associates were given a 
medal, as we have seen above. Learned soci- 



eties in England hesitated about accepting his 
findings. But this again made it necessary to 
write many letters and to prepare many papers. 
He was invited to address societies and classes. 
Upon one occasion he performed this task with 
such notable success as to have fifty out of 
fifty-five men declare their willingness to join 
the East African mission. 

To all this we must add the actual physical, 
mechanical labor connected with seeing manu- 
scripts through the press. Very few authors 
succeed in producing altogether clean copy for 
the printers. Many men find it necessary to 
make corrections and emendations even on the 
last manuscript which is intended for the prin- 
ter. The difficulty is increased ten-fold and 
hundred-fold where foreign languages are 
concerned. In many cases the author is the 
only man who can properly read copy. The 
printers must depend upon him for every cor- 
rection in the foreign language which he is 
describing or with which he is dealing. When 
the first proofs come from the press, they are 
made on long sheets of paper, commonly called 
galleys. Over these galleys Krapf was obliged 
to labor for many long hours. Every error in 
printing had to be most carefully noted ; every 
correction had to be included and at the same 



time the text had to be so manipulated as -to 
keep the lines in perfect harmony. In short, 
the work of Krapf during the last decades of 
his life, when he was busy with his descriptions 
of East Africa, with his revision of the Amharic 
Version of the Bible, with his labors in the 
translation of the Bible into other Oriental 
languages, and with the thousands of other 
details connected with this work, was of a most 
prodigious kind, exciting our admiration even 
today. And while he was taking his Oriental 
manuscripts through the press, while he was 
busy in various attempts for the spiritual good 
of others, the mission work in general, and 
especially that of East Africa, was still dear to 
him, and he had the joy of hearing from time 
to time of the progress of missions, and partic- 
ularly that the work which he had begun in 
East Africa had not proved unfruitful. 

The closing scene came on the first Sunday 
in Advent in the year 1881. During the after- 
noon of that day Krapf had said to a friend: 
"I am so penetrated by the feeling of the near- 
ness of the Lord's coming that I cannot describe 
it. He is indeed near ; Oh ! we ought to redeem 
the time and hold ourselves in readiness, so that 
we may be able to say with a good conscience, 
Yea, come, Lord Jesus, as it will be glorious 



when our Savior appears as a conqueror, and 
His enemies have become His footstool. Then 
shall we both be permitted to see that our work 
for the Lord has not been in vain." He spent 
the evening until 9 o'clock in correcting proofs 
which had come from the printer, and then, 
after family devotion, visited his sick wife, 
leaving her with the words, "Good-night, dear 
mamma; the dear Savior be thy pillow, thy 
canopy, and thy night-watch." Then, with a 
loving good-night to his daughter, he retired to 
his room and, as was his custom, he locked the 
door. When he did not appear at his usual hour 
in the morning, his daughter called him. When 
she received no answer, the fears of the house- 
hold were aroused, and, when they made their 
way into the room, they found that he had 
passed away, as had Livingstone not many 
years before, while engaged in prayer on his 
knees. Such was the death of this great ex- 
plorer-missionary of East Africa. 






It was one of the great disappointments of 
Krapf's life that the work in Abyssinia could 
not be established. Gobat had tried it and had 
not been permanently successful. Isenberg and 
Krapf had tried it, and they had been refused 
admission to the country after having laid a 
small foundation. Gobat had been the church 
statesman, whose tact and energy maintained 
the cause of his divine calling before the supe- 
rior authorities of the church and before the 
mighty in the land. Isenberg had been the 
plodding German man of letters, whose chief 
joy was the study of foreign languages, the 
writing of grammars and school books, and 
laying the foundation of a Protestant literature. 
Krapf had been the man of bold projects, full of 
brilliant ideas and far-reaching plans. He had 
fascinated the Protestant public by his scheme 
of the Apostle Street, and later by his similar 
plan of establishing a chain of stations right 
across Africa. All three of these men were 
later led by God in a most marvelous way. 
Gobat developed the full weight of his personal- 



ity as bishop of Jerusalem; Isenberg devoted 
his talents to further study and to educational 
work in India; Krapf became the enthusiastic 
pioneer of the missionary route from the east 
coast of Africa into the trackless interior. But 
Abyssinia remained for them all their first love, 
the country of romance in their missionary work. 
The following is the literary results of the 
thirteen years' work done by the Church Mis- 
sionary Society when these three men made 
their attempts in Abyssinia. Isenberg published 
his Amharic grammar, his English-Amharic 
and Amharic-English dictionary, his Amharic 
handbooks of geography, history, and religion, 
and his biography for Samuel Gobat. The 
diaries of Gobat were published in the Evan- 
gelical Missions-Magazin. Isenberg and Krapf 
published their journals in 1843, giving details 
of their work in the kingdom of Shoa. The next 
year Isenberg published a book entitled "Abys- 
sinia and the Evangelical Missions." 

The second period of mission work in Abys- 
sinia began with the work of Martin Flad, who, 
with three other young brethren met with a 
friendly reception at the court of King Theo- 
dore. But the men soon found that the ruler 
of Abyssinia was not nearly so much interested 
in the message which they might bring as in 



their ability as craftsmen. He wanted above all 
else to have them cast cannon, repair rifles, and 
make gun-powder for him. If they wanted to 
do a little school teaching on the side, he would 
not hinder them. But he saw to it that they 
had neither the time nor the opportunity for 
any thorough work of Gospel preaching. The 
unfortunate missionaries became royal rifle 
manufacturers, and their condition grew worse 
as the wild passions of the African despot 
gained the ascendency. 

Thereupon the missionaries attempted work 
among the Falasha, who were Abyssinian Jews. 
The London Society, induced by the reports of 
Flad, sent a man by the name of Stern to Abys- 
sinia, together with a young assistant. The 
Scottish Jewish Mission sent two Chrischona 
brethren, Staiger and Brandeis. The success 
of these men among the Falasha was astound- 
ing. In a little more than five years there was 
a company of 212 converts, among whom there 
were some splendid characters who, for the 
sake of their newly found faith, bravely faced 
severe persecutions. But the storm clouds were 
gathering over Abyssinia. King Theodore 
developed a most ferocious character. As he 
laid his own country waste, so he let his anger 
loose on the Europeans living in his dominions. 



All of them, including the Chrischona brethren, 
were thrown into prison, were they languished 
miserably for years. It was at this time that 
Krapf was asked to be the interpreter for the 
English army under Sir Robert Napier, when 
the fortress at Magdala was stormed and the 
prisoners relieved. When the English army, 
after this victory, left the country, all the 
Europeans who had lived there, including the 
missionaries, joined it, to leave behind them the 
ghastly experiences in which they had taken 

But Martin Flad held fast most faithfully 
to the Falasha mission. No fewer than eight 
times after the reign of terror in 1868 he under- 
took the tedious and dangerous journey to 
Abyssinia, to see if the door would not be 
opened to him again. But even when he came, 
five years later, as the bearer of an official letter 
from the Queen of England, he could not receive 
the permission to settle in the country. But 
he did not give up his work. As the new Am- 
haric Version of the Bible appeared, the work 
in which he assisted Krapf, he took a camel- 
load of newly printed books to the boundary of 
Abyssinia every other year. The result was 
that in 1884 the number of converts was be- 
tween eight and nine hundred. 



Once more a series of storms swept over 
the tender congregation. The Jesuits incited 
King John to destroy all Protestant books, and 
shortly afterwards the Mohammedan dervishes 
laid waste the country in which the mission had 
gained a footing, so that only a small remnant 

Upon the advice of Dr. Krapf the Swedish 
National Missionary Society began work among 
the Galla tribe, and subsequently in the Kunama 
country, in northwestern Abyssinia, their chief 
station being Tendur. In 1870 they were forced 
to retire to Massowa, where they opened a 
school. Subsequently they founded stations 
further inland, and three natives who had been 
trained by the missionaries pushed straight 
across the country to the Galla tribe in the 
province of Jimma, where they commenced the 
work of evangelization. Since 1882 much work 
has been done in the colony of Eritrea, where 
the inhabitants have for ages been members of 
the Abyssinian Church. In some villages the 
Gospel has become a power among the people. 
After the English had occupied the Somali 
coast, the Swedish missionaries approached the 
Galla tribe from the south, up the Juba River, 
but as yet the expectation of Krapf that the 
Galla tribe would offer a promising field for 



mission work has not been fulfilled. The coun- 
try of Abyssinia, on the whole, still remains in 
the darkness of its strange mixture of religions. 

But the work in East Africa has made good 
headway from the beginning. Even if the con- 
gregation left by Rebmann was small, it proved 
the nucleus for further missionary work, and 
at present Kenya colony, the Tanganyika ter- 
ritory, Uganda, and the upper reaches of the 
Belgian Congo have quite a number of mission 

In connection with Uganda the name of 
Alexander Mackay is very important. As in 
the case of other missionaries, Mackay had 
been deeply affected by the last message of 
Livingstone, and when Stanley called on the 
Christians of Great Britain to send mission- 
aries to Uganda, Mackay offered himself for the 
work. He arrived on the east coast of Africa 
in 1876, and he actually built a road from 
Mpwapwa two hundred and thirty miles inland. 
In November, 1878, Mackay entered Nteba, the 
harbor of Uganda, and five days later was in 
the capital of the country, which is now known 
as Mengo. Here his real life work began, and 
he did not draw back until death himself called 
a halt, in 1890. In 1896, another missionary, 
by the name of Pilkington, had the following to 



say about Uganda: "A hundred thousand 
evangelized half able to read for themselves; 
two hundred buildings for worship; two hun- 
dred native evangelists and teachers supported 
by the native church; ten thousand copies of 
the New Testament in circulation ; six thousand 
souls eagerly seeking daily instruction; the 
power of God shown by changed lives." 

And as for the entire situation in East 
Africa, nothing can be more characteristic 
than an entry from the diary of a recent ex- 
plorer, Mr. MacQueen, from whom we quote 
the following statement: 

"July 19th, Sunday: Lutheran Mission, 
Moschi, 4800 ft. It was a calm and restful day 
to me after an exciting week. Dr. Fassman 
and I had breakfasted together. Then to 
church. Two hundred clean, well-dressed 
Wachaga went to service. Seemed glad to go to 
the House of God. Singing good and vespers 
sounded sweetly in the quiet Sabbath hush. In 
the afternoon I looked for signs of my camp 
followers from the mountain, but they came not. 
Slept again. In the evening looked over the 
scene. Very striking one. Sun sets over Mount 
Meru, 12,000 feet in elevation. Plain is very 
green after the rain. Small volcanoes on the 
plains and the Parri mountains in a blue haze 



on the horizon. Streams flow, birds sing before 
they repair to rest. The Wachaga cattle graze 
peacefully. Glorious are the streams of light: 
tints of brightness, blues, mauves, opalescent, 
glistening. Garden smells of wild flowers. 
Chirp of insects. Great Kibo covered up in 
mist. I hear songs of praise from German 
church. The whole scene sings itself into my 
memory for ever. Limes, pears, nasturtiums, 
bananas, the pawpaw. Respectful attitudes of 
the people. Mission folk look better than other 

"Sun comes out. Sinks and it is night. In 
no romance of olden travel was this scene ever 
surpassed. A railway to Tanga will make this 
Moschi province one of the great lands of the 

Thus the work of Krapf and his associates 
goes on. And we, who derive inspiration from 
their life and labors, are constrained to think 
of the words of the Bible: "There remaineth 
yet much land to be possessed." It will be 
possessed and the Gospel will be victorious, if 
we Christians, by the mercy and in the strength 
of the Lord carry the banner of the cross 




1810, January llth. Born at Derendingen, near 
Tuebingen in Wuerttemberg. 

1827. At Basel Mission School. 

1829-1834. Tuebingen. At the university in 

1836. Pastor in Germany. 

1837. Left Basel for East Africa, reaching Mass- 
owa in December. 

1842. Furlough in Egypt. 

1843. Back in Massowa. 

1844. In Zanzibar. 
1846. Wife and child die. 

1848-49. In the interior of East Africa. 

1850. Furlough in Europe. 

1851. Return and further travels. 

1853. Second furlough. 

1854. Meets Bishop Gobat in Palestine. 

1855. In Switzerland. 

1868. British expedition to Abyssinia. 
1881. Died at his home in Germany, on his knees, 
November 26th. 


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